Let’s not kid ourselves, Goal 2010 was a disaster.
Former National Footballer Sasi Kumar was right when he compared being the best in the ASEAN region the same as being the best in the “Kampung”. Beyond South East Asia, Singapore has yet to produce on the Asian stage much less the World stage. It seems that despite our reign in regional competitions like the Suzuki Cup or the Sea Games, we don’t seem to be able to make much of an impact anywhere else.
Being a football fan and weekend footballer, I can tell you that the game is more than just exercise or a sport to me. I would love to be able to support my home nation, but honestly there just isn’t much to cheer about anymore. I’ve seen the commercials and the media calls to support the S-League, apparently a top-10 league in Asia but there just isn’t enough in it for me to want to watch it.
Sasi Kumar summed it up brilliantly with his quote and it seems like we no longer have the dreams and aspirations despite having a better infrastructure and better training facilities than our neighbours. We boast a terrific new Sports Hub and have a good youth set up with no lack of enthusiasm from young footballers. Somehow despite that we still fail in the final third. Sasi spoke of youth talents like Fandi’s sons who receive their football education in Chile and Brian Neubronner who does the same in Germany, and as promising as all that sounds for our local footballers, it doesn’t improve the standard of our local league.
I’m not expecting Singaporeans to dive in S-League euphoria like other the rest of our neighbours do for their home leagues. Nor do I expect us to immediately groom talent ready to participate with the elite of European football but perhaps we could expand our horizon and set goals similar to the Japanese, South Koreans, Chinese or the Middle East nations. I remember watching my first world cup in 1998 and watching the Asian nations do horribly, and bounce back when Japan and Korea hosted the World Cup next. I’ve always believed it had more to do than a home ground advantage, that they actually had a game plan.
Look at it this way, we were a sleepy fishing village and in less than a century we’re a financial hub, a first world nation with the economic health of an athlete. If there was a similar type of plan in place for the S-League or Football aspiration in general I strongly believe we’d be able to reap rewards and perhaps go to the World Cup by the time I have grandchildren. Raising the bar for our local league will definitely raise the bar of our local talent and local support.