Monday, 18 November 2013

The New Age of Dominance

Ever since Michael Schumacher dominated the F1 with his Ferrari in the 2000s, no one could ever imagine anyone coming close to matching his records or even breaking it. How times had changed with the emergence of a certain Sebastien Vettel. Hailing from the same country of Germany, it seems like Germans are talentedly fast with their 2 legendary champions.

Vettel first burst into the F1 scene with the Red Bulls junior team, Torro Rosso. Being just a feeder team for Red Bulls, he had shown that he possessed something different that separated him from the rest of his peers, his natural speed. Managing to secure a pole position and going on to record his first victory, he managed to secure a seat at the Red Bulls team the following season. Proving no fluke to that particular win, that race win and pole position is still what Torro Rosso has achieved so far in their history.

Racing for Red Bulls, nothing much can be said with his 4th straight Drivers’ crown and just breaking Michael Schumacher’s record of 7 straight wins in a single season. At still a young age of 26 and already achieved 38 race wins, looks like Schumi’s record of 91 is not that distant anymore.
Although 2014 will be a totally new ball game altogether, with Mark Webber gone and Adrian Newwy’s genius stroke, Vettel will no doubt be up there challenging for the championship again. 

Just like what is a year of dominance at F1, the same can also be said on the world of MotoGP. With the conclusion of the 2013 season, a new upstart rookie, Marc Marquez at only 20 years of age, upstaged the veterans of defending champion, Jorge Lorenzo, legendary Valentino Rossi back on a Yamaha, and even his team mate Dani Pedrosa, in winning his MotoGP World title in his debut season. 

Just starting out his first year with Honda at the elite level, Marquez had shown tremendous speed and aggression to constantly fight for wins and podiums. With Lorenzo and Pedrosa suffering major crashes which put them out of action during the middle of the season, Marc would stamp his mark on the races and take the overall lead which he never relinquish. Even being dealt with a black flag at Australia, he had enough in his tank to finish the year in style with his World title. Lorenzo’s late charge for the title would prove in vain. But what would have happen if Lorenzo did not have to sit out a few races due to injury?

Marc’s performance may have not been as eye catching as Vettel, but he did dominated the entire field with his consistency and sometimes ruthless aggression, even with his team mate Pedrosa. While thinking back, even Rossi in his prime and Lorenzo could not had to take some time before truly settling into their greatness.

At only 20 years of age, looks like Rossi’s various records achieved throughout his career will also be tumbling down in a few years time.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Players playing abroad, our development system

Read off today's The New Paper and on their centre spread, there's a discussion about should the local footballers advance their careers abroad, especially in Malaysia, where quite a number of players have attracted the interests of the teams across the causeway. This forum happened because TNP's associate editor had run an article on FAS being unable to hold on to our local talents.

Because of the achievements the LionXII had achieved in the past 2 seasons in the Malaysia League and Cup, quite a number of players had also stood out with the consistent displays. Week in week out, team coaches can be able to see how good our players are. Naturally they would be interested in them compared to paying big amounts to unheard foreign players. But for our locals to play there, it does not seem to make any difference in playing standards, because they will still be playing with the same opponents. The major difference would be the pay, where FAS would unlikely be able to match. This has been an ongoing problem in providing a sustainable career for our footballers. And if the players decided to venture abroad, is FAS fretting about not being able to produce enough talents to replace them?

Remember the few players that went to Indonesia to ply their trade? Where are they now? Players like Nor Alam Shah, Itimi Dickson, Agu Casmir and Muhd Ridhuan, they were in their prime when they joined various Indonesian teams. Discounting the fact that most of them encountered financial problem with their clubs, they were deemed not good enough for the National Team. No doubt they became major stars in Indonesia and rearned big bucks, but their form literally deteriorated at the highest level needed for the National team. Even John Wilkinson, who had a short stint in India, playing in an inferior league, came back playing not like he used to be.

While it's good that our players are attracting interests from foreign clubs, they should be aiming to play at a higher level compared to the MSL and S League, that's where they can really improve their game. Choosing any MSL teams is just playing the safety game in staying within their comfort zone. Japan, Korea and Australia may seem out of reach, but certainly Vietnamese and Thai Leagues are certainly of a higher standards. Just look at their progresses in the Asian Champions League. They have also been exporting some of their best players, attracting interests from China, Japan and Korea. At this moment, our locals are still not up to the standards yet, sadly after so many years of professional football.

With so many red tapes governing the boys in terms of National Service, it also throws a spanner into the works, disrupting the training and development plans for good players. And what has MINDEF of FAS has done? The players have to work around the issue because National Service is mandatory for all Singaporean males. 2 years out the game is as good as giving football up totally on a professional level. Top schools are getting smarter by offering scholarships and direct admissions to talented players just to help them to achieve glory at schools level. And when the players get into top schools, they are crammed with trainings and the need to achieve good grades. With the pressure to perform on both fronts, players will tend to drop out of the sport one they complete their studies. It's simple to understand if they can achieve academically, they are sure to find stability on their future careers. Playing professionally locally, it just seems unsustainable locally even in the future 10 years.

Our S League is still not strong enough to generate corporate interests in them. If FAS is able to make so many heroes out of the LionsXII in the past 2 years, what have they done for the local S League? While they did try to change, but things are still not going the way they want. Firstly, the clubs should be given more rein rather than red tapes. FAS should not even poach the local players who are under the clubs' payroll. Secondly, even though there have been increased media coverage in recent years, they still paled in comparison with the MSL. Thirdly, If corporate sponsors are so willing to step in to support the LionsXII, S League and FAS should be doing more to channel this corporate sponsors to adopt the local clubs so that there can be an established identity and support. this may even bring in the crowds. 

Development should be started from grassroot levels, not working from top down. If our S League is unable produce enough talents, we should be looking at the systems instead, right down to the grassroots of the clubs. Even experienced coaches like Fandi Ahmad and Kadir Yahya understand it.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

In Remembrance of Marco Simoncelli

It is almost the time of the year where the MotoGP season rolls back to Sepang, Malaysia, on 13th October. While this season has seen the rise of Marc Marquez and the unlucky season for both Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Perosa, the seemingly thought is Marc is indeed talented and fast, barring any bad luck that bestowed upon Dani, he should be able to win the crown in his debut season.

Coming back to Malaysia, it will always be remembered by the turbulent crash suffered by Marco Simoncelli. His passion for racing took away his young and promising life during the violent crash almost 2 years ago, then aged 24.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Singapore International Hockey Challenge 2013 *Edited with Fixtures*

An upcoming sporting event that will be held in the sunny shores of Singapore would be the inaugural Singapore International Hockey Challenge. This game of hockey will be played entirely indoors, which is more popular with the European nations, will see participation from Malaysia, Indonesia, Tornados Hockey Club, which is a local club comprises of mainly expats who are interested in the game, Singapore teams, and the Australian team. Based on their rankings, Australia is definitely the marquee team in this competition.

Monday, 16 September 2013

19th Ngee Ann City National Lion Dance Championship 2013 Results

Just a follow up on my previous post, I did go on to watch the final round of the Ngee Ann City National Lion Dance Championship. Thursday was the finals for the Traditional Category, which was won by Tian Eng Dragon and Lion Dance Centre. They were actually tied in scores with the last team to perform, Taman Jurong Community Club Juboon Dragon and Lion Dance Troupe, however they managed to nick away the Traditional title by virtue of having higher minor scores. One bad point about Thursday was that the event finished closed to midnight. Having 8 teams competing seemed a bit too much for one night, and that did not have any fringe performance in between the competition.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

19th Ngee Ann City National Lion Dance Championship 2013

It’s been a long time since my last post again. The constant work stress and various commitments had basically drained me of energy to write any substantial articles towards sports during the past few months, although quite a lot of things happened in the sporting world.

photo courtesy of Singapore Wushu Dragon & Lion Dance Federation
Just to start off again, I was actually passing by Orchard area the past few days where I witness a lion dance competition going on. After doing some research, the competition was actually the annual Ngee Ann City National Lion Dance Championship, which is already into the 19th edition.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Managerial Merry Go Round

In the fickle world of football, it is really crazy out there to determine who is the actual boss. In this industry, when the players don't perform, the managers get the sack! Put it in other industries, the workers get it.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Michael Owen, Jaime Carragher, David Beckham

After this weekend, we will bid goodbye to 3 players who had graced the Barclays Premier League and had very different contrasting fortunes throughout their playing careers. With the retirement of these 3 players, this is almost at the end of England’s Golden Generation.

Let’s just start with Michael Owen. He would have been considered a legend if he had not been plague by so many injuries throughout his career. Bursting out into Liverpool FC’s first team at a tender age of 17, he captured the imagination of the Liverpool hopefuls with his speed and strike accuracy. He gave Liverpool a new lease of life with his breathtaking speed and youthfulness when Robbie Fowler was constantly injured and out of form, and Ian Rush making his own last lap of glory. He would provide the Reds with important goals and soon find himself into the England fold.
Going into the World Cup in 1998, at age 19 years old and facing favourites Argentina, he would go on to score a memorable goal to out himself in the centre of attraction. Alas, England would bow out to Argentina in that game through penalties and some blame a certain David Beckham, who is also retiring this season. Owen would went on to score more goals for England and one of the more memorable matches would be a hat-trick scored against old foes, Germany. It was a 5-1 whitewash. 

Monday, 13 May 2013

Coincidence or Phenomenon?

Now that most of the European leagues are coming to an end, suddenly it felt like a déjà vu of senses for most of the leagues. Manchester United won their title with 4 matches to spare, while Bayern Munich had confirmed their title weeks ago. Barcelona with their main rivals, Real and Athletico Madrid slipping up constantly, won their title last weekend, while Juventus also wrapped up theirs with matches to spare, so too is PSG.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

The Ugly Sides of Sports

Sports, as we know it, can be a form of beauty, competition, healthy lifestyle, hobby and etc. However in recent weeks, sports had also shown its ugly side to the world, internationally and locally. How the beauty of the sport can actually transcend into such an ugly side? It will usually boils down to greed and glory. But where could the glory be where money is involved.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Be A Man, Do The Right Thing

What an interesting weekend of F1 race it has been! From the unpredictable weather in Sepang, to the apparent team orders to bring the cars safely home, it has no doubt created a wonderful weekend of motorsports for the fans.

Just to coincide with Russell Peters show tonight, I have to borrow his tag line just to summarize the Sepang F1 race. Be a man, Do the right thing! Well, these words can basically summarize what hell Sebastien Vettel and Noci Rosberg went through yesterday, and to a certain aspect, it can be used on Fernando Alonso also.

Friday, 22 March 2013

F1 Rookies, Talented or just Rich?

While the second race of the new F1 season gets underway, this year sees quite a lot of rookie drivers making their debuts. It looks good as a form of development of new drivers at the pinnacle of motor racing, but the cold hard truth is that unless you have the dough, then you can have the seat.
As we know, motorsport is a very expensive sport. It is not only about the talent of an individual, it also combines the technology of the crafts that they will be using, and these don’t come cheap. F1 teams constantly develop their cars and aerodynamics, just to wipe off the extra seconds off their time sheets, unless the teams are big on budget, if not the development phase will be delayed and simply make up the numbers on the starting grid.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

F1 2013 The race has started!

Finally the new F1 season has started. Although there aren’t many changes to the rules governing the cars and engines, there are definitely surprises thrown about during the first weekend of race. As we anticipate the rest of the 18 races, it will be an interesting season to look out for, with the challenges between the big teams, and the slugfest between the smaller teams but having young and talented rookies.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Big 4 in Tennis

We’ve heard of the big 4 in Barclay’s Premier League, where the dominant big clubs like Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and years ago, Liverpool, used to rule and dominate the league. Right now you can also add in clubs like Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur into the mix. Getting into the top 4 also means qualification into the lucrative UEFA Champions League. It is lucrative as the money and sponsorship that goes along with it, can make a rich club even richer. Just look at the usual clubs participating in the competition, and you can always see them among the top 10 earners in terms of revenue.