Getting racial in local football

26 Mar

*warning reading this post could bring you unwarranted attention from the Singapore Polis Farce’s Politically Correct Racial Enforcement Unit

Like everyone else growing up in pre-EPL Singapore, I am a fan of local football since the Malaysian Cup days. It’s feels proud to see Sundram and his boys climb to 2nd spot in the Malaysian League, a place they thoroughly deserved through the hard work, preserverance and creativity that they have shown. With this foray up north, it has reignited some of the old charm lost to European football in recent years. Hope our next generation would continue to give local football and sports their support.

source: ligasingapura.blogspot

In the recent decade or so, it has not been difficult to see that there is a dearth of local Chinese in the national football team. The most prominent Chinese footballers are actually naturalised citizens Shi Jiayi and Qiu Li – but this is not a post about FT in sports although Shi and Qiu have performed well for Singapore. But if we look at younger squads such as the Cubs that played in the 2010 Youth Olympics, we can see that it was more racially diverse.

source:xin.msn

Granted that in recent decades, Lim Tong Hai and super-sub Steven Tan may not be as talented as Quah Kim Song of the yesteryears, the point here is Singapore football (and for the fact any other sports) is poorer on the whole without the availbility of Chinese players to tap on. It seems that football coaches can only pick from less than half of the available talent pool to train, groom and field, as for some reason or other, local Chinese are not found on the team sheets of national teams for the past decade or more. Clearly, this shouldn’t be the case when football is a widely played sport across all races. Similarly, I have seen lesser players from Indian orgin as well.

source: ligasingapura.blogspot

There are many reasons why Chinese boys are declining to pick up professional football, it could be for financial considerations, it could be because of cultural/parents’ objections or it could be because they have better, more interesting, offers elsewhere. It would also be interesting to analyse why badminton as a sport that was played by all races in older Singapore has become more of a “Chinese” sport now. Or why table tennis is a Chinese sport just as cricket is an Indian sport and sepak takraw is a Malay sport.

But we have seen that in many situations, individuals are willing to give up material comfort if they know they can still make a decent living (although not a superlative high wage) doing something they love. Sportsmen and sportswomen would only make that sacrifice and contribution to national honour if they know they have a decent career both during and after their professional playing life. If football, or sports, as a career is over by the age of 35, then we would all have to resign to importing a large bulk of our sporting gold medals.

source: ligasingapura.blogspot

The constant renewal and reform of our sporting scene should be approached from a cradle to grave perspective where sports is not only seen as a honour and sacrifice but also as a wise career choice. We should also be examining at ways to break “racial barriers and stereotypes” in sports and encouraging kids from different racial groups to play different sports. If Singapore as a small country is not able to tap on our diversity and make the sum greater than the individual parts, then perhaps we are destined for mediocrity (at least in sports). With that, perhaps, we can finally tap on the full population and full potential of this little red dot and reduce our reliance on the next impending wave of foreign imports.

p.s. if Chinese kids don’t even understand cricket or sepak does that make the call for removal of race in NRIC somewhat weaker?

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3 Responses to “Getting racial in local football”

  1. houganghools March 27, 2012 at 2:10 am #

    Hi Bro,

    Nice post there however I feel that everyone has been caught up with how the LionsXII are now in the Malaysian Super League (MSL) and that they may have missed the bigger picture.

    From a football marketing perspective going back to the MSL looks like a successful populist move – featuring an all ‘true blue Singaporean team’ in the MSL, but this may not be sustainable in the long run for the development of Singapore football as players of the current squad are actually extracted from clubs in the S-league.

    How many years down the road is the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) going to keep extracting players from S-league so that 7,000 plus spectators at the Jalan Besar Stadium feel like temporary naive glory hunters? (You can ask that FAS Chairman a.k.a that MP in AMK GRC what’s going to happen to the FAS and S-League in 5 years time, and he’ll tell you ‘wait and see’ approach is best for now – basically means do nothing)

    Simply, if there was no S-League, there will be no LionsXII team.

    Long time ago after 1994, the reason why the FAS pulled out of the M-Cup was because they got ‘tired’ of winning in Malaysia and wanted to flex their footballing muscle looking for regional heights to conquer, that’s why S-league was created so that it could develop and pick from a bigger pool of players to supplement the National Team.

    It is also in the S-League that local clubs get to participate in the AFC Champions League which is Asia’s prestigious version of the UCL; and play along side other Asian powerhouse clubs e.g Uwara Reds (Japan), Suwon Blue Wings (S.Korea), Bangkok Glass (Thailand) etc.

    LionsXII playing well in the Malaysian Super League, and probably winning it, plus the winning other cup competition would only mean they are champions of … Malaysia and nothing more. All this happening while other Asian and Asean powers are moving up the FIFA ranking and moving on into World Cup Qualification rounds. e.g Thailand, India, China, Korea, Iraq …. We are going backwards going back to the MSL.

    10 Years ago, we could still stand toe to toe with Iraq drawing 1-1 but recently Iraq have shown that they no longer perennial minnows when they thrashed the Singapore National Team 7-1.
    http://www.goal.com/en/match/64316/iraq-vs-singapore/report

    But as of now, Singaporeans are just happy beating other M’sian state teams. *?scratch?*

    S-league at this point needs all it’s support it can get, the standard of football is certainly on par with the MSL.

    The only thing it lacks is star power, media support and sponsorship. And we all know how the media only joins the success bandwagon but never adopting the “nation building’ stance when it comes to sport. Instant gratification is the closest word that comes to mind. Other examples include ping pong, swimming, badminton ..you get the idea.

    Anyway, sorry for the super long post but ultimately let’s not – while in our EPL and LionsXII daze loose sight of our football development. Let’s not forget our S-League. 🙂

  2. charlie March 30, 2012 at 4:52 pm #

    why don’t we have an experiment? make all sleague matches free and see the attendance? if the model is failing why keep insisting on a sleague? you only need to dig a grave deep enough to jump in and the sleague has done that already. singapore can perhaps explore grooming 3 or 4 good teams to compete in the malaysian league, indonesian league, thailand league and so on. then choose the best players from there to form the national team.

  3. anon April 27, 2012 at 10:23 am #

    Cricket is ENGLISH sport

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