Team Venga present manifesto to some football stakeholders
Former S.League club official Venga works to get support for team ahead of FAS election
R Vengadasalam has been willing to share his opinions on the state of Singapore football to just about anyone who is willing to listen, and he is working behind the scenes to put together a team to stand at the upcoming Football Association of Singapore (FAS) election.
Yesterday at the Metropolitan YMCA on Stevens Road, he received the first public indication of support from some factions of the football community here.
Presenting the manifesto of his as yet unannounced slate of candidates who will run when the FAS eventually calls for election, Venga, once the manager of former S.League club Woodlands Wellington, called for a focus on local teams in the S.League, the development of a sustainable ecosystem for the sport starting from the grassroots - and a promise to listen to the voices on the ground.
Of the 30 teams invited yesterday, 19 - a mix of the Islandwide League (IWL), Women's Premier League (WPL) and National Football League (NFL) - turned up for the team's presentation of its manifesto and there were passionate speeches delivered by some who felt ignored by the current FAS administration.
"The key word is neglected. That's how many women's teams feel," said Ben Ho, coach of WPL side Arion FC whose impromptu speech highlighted issues of what he perceived as discrimination against the women's game here, at least in terms of pitch allocation.
"There has been a lot of conversation between clubs, and while I can't speak for every team in the league, I'd say that football's women are voting for change."
There are 46 voting affiliates of the FAS: seven S.League clubs, 10 NFL sides, 14 IWL clubs and 11 WPL clubs with the rest unattached teams like sit-out S.League clubs Gombak United and Woodlands.
The FAS has called for an annual general meeting on Sept 24 to make amendments to its constitution to allow - for the first time - an elected body of representatives to run the sport here.
It is only after these changes have been made that the FAS can officially call for an election.
But even before then, Team Venga may have earned an advantage.
Like the IWL outfits, NFL teams also believe they have been ignored.
"The FAS has not engaged NFL clubs much at all, it feels like they're only doing it now because they need our votes to make the constitution changes - that's not right," said Darwin Jalil of Eunos Crescent.
The NFL went from a two-division tournament two years ago to just one today, with Darwin revealing that the FAS promised last week at a meeting to increase the number of teams to form two divisions again next year.
"Not all changes made to the NFL are bad, but we feel that we are forced to accept these changes. We'd like to see a five or 10-year plan for the league, and that the FAS stick to it.
"I'm inclined to vote for Venga's team, because at least our voices will be heard," he said.
Harman Ali, head coach of GFA Singapore, asserted that youth development does not seem to have a structure under the guidance of the current FAS administration, but like Darwin and Ho, he picked the consultative nature of Team Venga as the key reason for his support.
"I would vote for these guys, at least they listen," he told The New Paper.
Venga was pleased with the support, but not surprised.
He said: "I know that I've got support from many clubs because they have told me before that they are neglected.
"Now it's time for us to help make a change, and take Singapore football forward."