Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Save Our S League!!

After 20 years, I just find that our S League is just a joke. Instead of producing more talents, allowing more players to live off their passion as a professional player and developing our standards of football, we just seemed to be moving backwards and backwards.

This is what happen when the government chose to build everything top down by placing paper generals in positions, thinking they are up to the mark of driving various governmental project. These generals may have been scholars, groomed to be the successors of the nation and may have had certain sporting achievements during their time, but are they really up to the mark? Based on the whole S League issue, I just can say that they do not really bother about what the ground is feeling.

20 years is a long time, sufficient enough to develop youth to the professional stage and develop the players bring more quality to the S League. But with each passing year, the league seems to be taking steps backwards. Head honchos at FAS blame clubs not producing enough young talents, clubs lamenting that there are not enough funds to sustain. While these situations had been an ongoing problem in the past, but it takes 2 hands to clap. By reducing the number of teams for next season might seem to be the most feasible option now, but were there any prevention measures being taken before coming to this action? For a club to sit out for next season just like that, can you imagine how many players' livelihood are affected? And to think that their idea of limiting the number of local players aged over 30, is a step towards developing younger players, why haven't they thought of improving the standards of the Prime League? I thought Prime League is supposed to be the breeding ground for future S League? 

Those football people sitting at the high table in FAS might have thought that participation in the Malaysia Cup brought back the passion of the local fans, but did our standards really improve? Is the training methods implemented at the FAS system working? Just look at how our LionsXII and Young Lions did in the MSL and S League. These are the so called talented young players with a chance of representing Singapore on the international stage, but they are even struggling to beat our regional countries now. We may boast to have many qualified coaches who had achieved the highest coaching accreditation in the world or Asia, but they are just not given the opportunity at all, even locally. Turning to foreign coaches may be a good idea, but that just simply disheartened the local coaches. FAS have different age group teams participating in the lower divisions of the National Football League, but everyone is complaining that Singapore is too small to build a talent pool. In fact, with FAS procuring so many of these talented youngsters, they could not even handle them well. Why don't FAS just disband these age group teams and let the clubs train and develop them instead? These clearly shows a distinct lack of confidence in our local clubs.

With the clubs not having any ownerships of the local stadiums, they will always be faced with the uncertainty relocating to other stadiums. This will definitely have an adverse effect for the clubs and fans. The most notable example would be Tampines Rovers who play their home match at Clementi Stadium. How are the people in Tampines going to relate to Clementi? Also with the clubs constantly facing pressure for results and budget, they are not even interested in signing players for long term contracts, mostly offering 1 year contracts for the players. That is also why lots of players move around clubs each season. From a fan's perspective, I personally find it very difficult to follow and support a particular club if their coaches and players keeps changing every year. There is simply no way to build on a culture for the localised fans. Needless to say, how can we expect entertaining football with the constant cropping and changing of players and coaches?

How I wish FAS can really improve on the standards of the S League, ensuring proper development in the youth development, to bring us a more quality product that we can be proud of. I believe if FAS is able to garner so many sponsors for an under performing LionsXII, better connections and marketing efforts can be used to help out the S League clubs. 

The more I look at it, the more it resembles the situation with Formula 1 at the moment where smaller teams simply could not sustain the competition with teams on a bigger budget. Even the F1 supremo, Bernie Ecclestone who can simply just step in to help, but chose not to and only sigh in regret. But at the very least, F1 is still raking in big profits from commercial rights and ticketing.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Formula 1, 3 Rounds to go, Rosberg or Hamilton?

As the year is coming to an end, some of the sports competitions will also reach their conclusion. Champions will be crowned while losers will suffer the ignominy of defeat. A whole of the others will ponder to themselves during their off season, “what if we had done this and gotten the results…”.

What a year it has been for Formula 1 this year. While Mercedes has definitely dominated the field with their deep understanding in producing the new power units required for this season, they had left the field with a lot of catching up to do. In fact, they are so far ahead in the competition where usually Mercedes GP usually wins the races. Not only that, with them being the engine supplier for Williams, they too managed to get into the front-runners consistently. Even though Mercedes GP has already secured the constructors titles, the real fight has only just begun with their 2 drivers.

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg has been going at each other throughout the season. While Hamilton had won the title before, this year seems to be Rosberg’s breakout year, with a string of good results and wins. Both drivers were also dogged by reliability issues where they did not finish in a couple of races.

The 2 of them were actually team mates during their karting days and forged a good friendship throughout the years. Since Hamilton joined Mercedes last year, I had actually thought that the 2 of them could actually work well together to put up a good show for the team. Last year was not that bad as Mercedes did not have a particularly good car and there was not much pressure on anyone of them. This year was actually a whole new story. With Rosberg being more consistent in his car and Hamilton having reliability issues in the first half of the season, Rosberg led the standings throughout. Even when Hamilton was racing, both of them were so far ahead and the team principal actually allowed them to race each other. They provided a lot of close wheel to wheel actions throughout the season. They seemed to enjoy every moment of that and it seemed like 2 close friends having friendly competitions between them.

As Rosberg continued to lead, Hamilton was fast gaining onto Rosberg’s lead. The pressure to win and become champion proved too much for the 2 drivers. Slowly their friendship would be severely tested until the point that during media interviews that only address each other as team mates. Testy relationships are pretty common when you have 2 ace drivers in the rank. Just think back towards the last few seasons with Redbull Racing. Sebastien Vettel and Mark Webber clashed constantly, but their objectives are to win and they helped Redbull brought home 4 consecutive constructors’ title. Going a bit further back when Fernando Alonso joined Mclaren Mercedes, he was welcomed by then rookie, Hamilton. Although Hamilton was a rookie, he showed his talent and pushed Alonso all the way. In the end Alonso left Mclaren Mercedes after just one season.

The pressure could have gotten into Rosberg this year because he really felt that he can be a world champion. He might not even have the luck or opportunity after this season, but he is coming up against his team mate. Rosberg had shown that he has the hunger to win every races and he want’s to be a world champion. Hamilton seemed more matured in his drives this year and looked just a little bit faster and more consistent when it mattered.

Provided the 2 of them finishes the next 2 races in United States and Brazil, the championship will definitely come down to the final race at Abu Dhabi. With double points on offer at the last race, the pressure for each of them will be so huge that one can only anticipate a good fight till the end. Although as much as I prefer Rosberg, I believe Hamilton will prevail comes Abu Dhabi. His experience and guts and precision during overtaking will push him through to win his second world driver’s title this year.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

S League 2014

As we come to the end of the 2014 S League season this Friday, we will witness the crowning of a new S League Champion, but who will it be? In addition, the legendary and well respected Aleksander Duric will be playing his last match of his professional career, finally drawing his curtains to a close after an illustrious decade in Singapore.

Although the championship could go either ways, Brunei DPMM is the clear favourites when they beat Albirex Nigata to put them level on points with Warriors FC and ahead on goal difference. However their last match will see them playing against Tampines Rovers, the defending champions for the last 3 seasons. It will definitely be a close and tough match, considering the Rovers would surely want Duric to go out on a high. 

Albirex Nigata should have won against Brunei DPMM and made the final day a 3 horse race. But with their domination of possession football and coming close a few time, they failed to break down DPMM. a lapse of concentration in defence saw DPMM nicked in a header which proved to be the winner, thus sending the White Swans out of the title race. If they had won the match, their final match will be against Warriors FC and what a match it could turn out to be. The epic last day battle between 2 title challengers while their destinies might also depend on the results elsewhere. 

The Warriors might have started out slowly in the season, they have slowly and surely shown their quality and commitment by constantly producing results. Their mental toughness brought them to the top of the summit only just a few weeks ago, while Brunei was inconsistent and unable to extend their advantage. Alex Weaver had done well with the team since taking over midway last season. There's a lot more fight in the team and they are grinding out the results. Winning the league title will also help Weaver in his credentials where he was unceremoniously dumped by Hougang United. 

So now it's down to the wire between Brunei and Warriors. As a Singaporean, I hope the S League title can stay in Singapore, which means Warriors have to win and hope Tampines beat or draw against Brunei. It is not a good feeling that our local teams could not even win in our local domestic league. Just ask the Malaysians how they felt when we last won the Malaysian Super League in 2013. On top of that, Brunei could not even qualify for the Suzuki Cup, where their players are effectively their DPMM local players and coached by Steve Kean. So if Brunei DPMM wins the S League, that could really show our quality of football and development compared to the region.

Monday, 8 September 2014

20th Ngee Ann City National Lion Dance Championship 2014, Let the Lions Roar!!

The 20th Ngee Ann City National Lion Dance Championship 2014, got underway at the heart of Orchard Road last night. This year’s edition will see 9 teams competing for 8 final slots to be crowned the National Freestyle champion, and having the opportunity to represent Singapore in future International competitions. In the Traditional category, 12 teams will slug it out to be crowned the Champions in the Traditional category.

Kicking off the event’s proceedings, Long Tian Pugilistic Dragon & Lion Dance Troupe Team A were the first competitors. Although they were former champions just a few years back, they showed their strengths in development by ensuring the 2 teams they had sent had qualified for the semi-finals. With a new line up this year and probably affected by their nerves for being the first team, Long Tian Team A could not display their usual fluidity in their routine and making several mistakes along the way. Their final score would eventually be 6.99.

Quan Wei Dragon & Lion Dance Centre were up next. Probably buoyed by the fact that they just needed to score higher than 6.99 points and they will qualify for the finals on Friday and Saturday, Quan Wei opted for a safe performance without being too flashy to eventually score 8.77, putting them in one of the final spot.

Former champions, Yi Wei Athletic Association put up a near flawless performance and scored 8.70 in their routine. They displayed good agility and fluidity in their movements and made the movements really cat-like.

Wen Yong Dragon And Lion Dance Troupe made a few major mistakes, including a major fall in their display, and could only garner 7.33 points for the night. However this would be enough to see them progress to the weekend’s finals.

Kuan San Tang Dragon And Lion Dance Troupe Being the defending champions, displayed a matured and safe routine, without showing too many mistakes to score 9.31, easily the highest of the night. With this kind of form, they are definitely the favourites to retain their title this year.

With points being a determining factor in the troupes’ competition schedules on Friday and Saturday, the rest of the troupes competing on Tuesday’s semi-finals will be spurred on to put up an even better performance and scores, so as to reduce their own pressure and expectations come the weekend.

Current Standings:

Kuan San Tang Dragon & Lion Dance Troupe
Yi Wei Athletic Association
Quan Wei Dragon & Lion Dance Centre
Wen Yong Dragon & Lion Dance Troupe
Long Tian Pugilistic Dragon & Lion Dance Troupe Team A