Mr Muhamad Faisal Bin Abdul Manap: Sir, in December last year, our Singapore Lions men’s football team put up a brave fight, in the semi-final of the AFF Suzuki Cup. Although they were down to eight men, they put up a proud fight until the final whistle and could hold their heads up high despite the defeat. The team’s run in the tournament sparked a reinvigoration in local sentiments about our footballing scene.
Twelve years ago, another team bearing Singapore colours sparked the imagination of local football fans – the Singapore Youth Olympic Games (YOG) football team. The players from that tournament were dubbed a “Golden Generation” not only for achieving a milestone bronze medal at the inaugural event, but also for their exciting style of play. And yet, a review of their fortunes a decade later told a story of a lost generation of footballers.
While it is true that youth footballing success is no guarantee of future achievement, we must also be mindful of other factors such as failures in the training and development systems and the lack of quality in mentoring, coaching and grooming of young talents. Sir, it is my hope that those involved in the “Unleash the Roar” (UTR) project announced in March 2021 bear in mind the lessons learnt from the past and continually engage stakeholders such as coaches, club management, fans but most of all – the players.
Just over the weekend, a feature on CNA asked the question, “What does Singapore football need to raise its game?” The feature struck a cautious yet optimistic note for the future of Singapore football. I welcome the small steps that have been taken under the UTR project such as the setting up of School Football Academies and partnerships with global leaders in football, such as clubs from the Spanish premier La Liga.
However, it is disappointing that following the resignation of Mr Tatsuma Yoshida after the Suzuki Cup tournament, a replacement has yet to be announced. Sir, we must move fast or be left behind.
Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth
10 March 2022