So I wanted to reply to this letter on the day it was published, but life got in the way. ST Forums have an exclusivity clause which expires if they don’t contact you after five working days, which I can safely say have passed, which means here is my reply, which hasn’t been substantively changed by the intervening SEA Games and friendly results:
I agree with Mr. Chan’s assertion (Good coach, marketing are what local football needs) that more needs to be done to promote local football. The fact that fans had to choose between Chelsea vs Bayern and Home United vs Warriors on the same night is a planning catastrophe that could have been avoided.
I would, however, point out that a steady stream of televised European football has accustomed Singaporean palates to the “individual skills and combination play” produced by teams with well-oiled talent pipelines and decades of competitive pedigree.
We are in the process of building this system ourselves, from the S.League, Prime League, and National Football Leagues (NFL) down to the youth Centres of Excellence (COE) and countless academies. It takes time and effort, and talent is lost along the way. We need to work at it.
Attractive attacking football is built in triangles on the pitch, when players pass and move. I would argue that triangles are important off the pitch as well.
Fixture and resource planning from the FAS gives players room to grow. Football clubs must see more to development than just building jackpot rooms and buying marquee stars. The third side of that triangle is us, the fans.
Unstinting support from us on the sidelines is also necessary. Every single face in the crowd, even if it is just friends and family, motivates those on the pitch to do better. Cheer the successes, jeer the failed attempts, but be there and acknowledge the effort on the pitch.
Supporters in other countries are willing to “show up in full force” for internationals because they have seen their players’ dedication in local league games and know to expect the same of their national team. Here, punters are more interested in betting slips and free views from outside, and the local league has suffered.
Our demanding football appetites can be satisfied, but only if we give our football time to grow. I would not be surprised if our insistence on instant results helped contribute to the vast change in Sundram’s attitude from player to coach.
When we learn to take risks again, instead of playing the safe route to win, we will be able to work towards the football we want to enjoy.