Hail football miracle! FAS proposals are smart and positive

At the 35th Football Association of Singapore (FAS) Congress on Thursday, a number of radical changes for both the S.League and the national game were proposed. Analysing the major ideas, Neil Humphreys believes they could work - as long as the public stays patient.

There must be something in the water. The FAS have unveiled plans to resuscitate the national game and they are relevant, practical and necessary.

Foreign player quotas, foreign team participation and the Lions XII, for instance, were handy smokescreens to cover the prepubescent elephants not in the room

After a winless annus horribilis for the Lions, a desperate 2017 could yet end with a glimmer of hope.

For years now, too many tokenistic tweaks have felt like window dressing, essentially tidying up a house that’s falling down.

Foreign player quotas, foreign team participation and the LionsXII, for instance, were handy smokescreens to cover the prepubescent elephants not in the room.

The kids didn’t play, not enough of them anyway.

Promising footballers often disappeared once they’d completed their Primary School Leaving Examinations. A few idealists hung on for the first year or two of secondary school, but eventually faded away.

More youngsters in Singapore need to play football

Study always wins. That’s why Singapore often ranks among the top countries in maths and science. That’s why Singapore are currently ranked an abysmal 173rd in world football. It ain’t rocket science and never has been.

Kids must be encouraged to chase after the round ball for as long as possible and have the means and facilities available to them to do so.

The FAS’ plan to persuade more schools to offer football as a co-curricular activity (CCA) is the right move

So the FAS’ plan to persuade more schools to offer football as a co-curricular activity (CCA) is the right move. It’s the only move.

The endless, dispiriting criticism of V. Sundramoorthy’s flailing Lions is not only futile, but a little unfair, like blaming old fruit for a lack of sustenance rather than the owner of an empty apple orchard.

According to reports, only 74 of 182 primary schools offer football as a CCA (it’s only 84 of 154 secondary schools), a terrible stat on so many levels.

Football is the national game and It should be available to the nation.

Our national sport needs to be made redily available in schools

Ideally, every school should be capable of offering football as a CCA, across all ages, races and neighbourhoods in Singapore.

A raft of changes have also been proposed concerning academy programmes, providing technical manuals for teachers, new development centres and revamped age-group competitions; all laudable stuff.

The Ministry of Education and parents must both be on board

But the Ministry of Education and parents must both be on board or these ideas are little more than neat soundbites at an FAS press conference.

Making a football CCA available to primary and secondary students is a start. Granting them the time and space to develop as footballers, however, is out of FAS hands. If it’s not a genuine collaboration with all the relevant parties, it cannot work.

Convince teenagers, particularly Chinese teenagers, that football training and textbooks can co-exist. The local game needs them as well.

[NEXT: Putting the national in National Stadium]