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2013 FAS AGM SPEECH

31st ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING, FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION OF SINGAPORE

TUESDAY, 24 SEPTEMBER 2013, 6:00PM

LEVEL 3 VIP LOUNGE, JALAN BESAR STADIUM

ADDRESS BY MR ZAINUDIN NORDIN,

PRESIDENT, FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION OF SINGAPORE


Introduction

1. A very good evening, Council Members, Club Representatives, Affiliates, Sponsors, Friends of Singapore football, Ladies & Gentlemen.

2. Welcome to the 31st Annual General Meeting of the Football Association of Singapore.

3. As I look around this room, I see many familiar faces of dedicated men and women who have volunteered their time, energy and resources to support the development of Singapore football. I appreciate your efforts and continued support towards the development of Singapore football and I would like to place on record my sincere thanks to each and every one of you.

4. The FAS Annual Report contains the details of our various activities conducted during the reporting period, several of which were also shown in the video earlier on. Our success at the 2012 AFF Suzuki Cup and the continued progress of our youth teams and players were among the many highlights of a memorable year. The National ‘A’ Team also went on to clinch several accolades at the inaugural AFF Awards 2013 which was held in April this year and the 2013 Singapore Sports Awards.

5. Apart from the National Team, we have also achieved progress and success in various aspects, including youth development, coaching and refereeing, among others. Most notably, three referees and one refereeing instructor had the opportunity to attend the prestigious UEFA’s Centre of Refereeing Excellence (CORE) programme in Nyon in April this year, which is an introductory course for promising young match officials with the aim of developing the skills and fitness of European international referees of the future. Off the pitch, we have been recognised for our marketing and branding efforts for the LionsXII campaign in 2012, which included the launch of the LionsXII Live App. That collaboration between FAS and StarHub led to both organisations picking up several prestigious awards and accolades at the Creative Circle Awards held on 21 November last year.

6. We are both humbled and encouraged by the endorsements of our programmes by leading football officials including Mr David Borja, FIFA’s Senior Manager, Development Programmes Asia, and FC Metz’s Youth Academy Director Mr Denis Schaeffer.

7. Notwithstanding our progress during the past one year, there remains much hard work ahead as we continue the implementation of our FAS Strategic Plan. We must, and we will, continue to persevere and at the same time, continue to work closely with our stakeholders as we strive towards the goals and objectives as envisaged in our Strategic Plan.

 

Youth Development

8. One area which is a key focus for us is youth development. Today, our youth development structure commences with the Junior Centre of Excellence Under-6 age-group, which is followed by the JCOE Under-8, Under-10, Under-12 levels before the best players are selected for the National Football Academy setup, which comprises teams at every age-group from Under-13 to Under-18.

9. Our NFA teams not only compete in local competitions but also represent the nation at the various AFF and AFC age-group tournaments. Besides providing our emerging talents with the best training and competitions locally, international match exposure such as playing against top European and Asian teams has been identified as critical for the overall development for our elite youth players.


Football Development Fund

10. This is one of the key reasons why we established the Football Development Fund last year: To support the attachment of our young players and teams to clubs in Europe. The first recipient of the Fund is Adam Swandi, who won the “2011 The New Paper – Dollah Kassim NFA Player of the Year”, and he was the captain of the 2012 NFA Under-16 Team. Adam is currently playing for the youth team of FC Metz in France and he recently made his international senior debut for the National ‘A’ Team against Myanmar on 4 June 2013 – at the age of 17.

11. FC Metz’s Youth Academy Director Denis Schaeffer was quoted in the media as saying the FC Metz coaches were very impressed with Adam when they first saw him during a training attachment last December, and that he believed that Adam can only get better with FC Metz. This is a testament to our emphasis on youth development as well as the quality of our system, and the potential of our players.

12. Apart from players, we also aim to utilise the Football Development Fund to send our coaches on overseas attachment stints – so as to enhance and expand their knowledge. FAS Youth Development Manager Akbar Nawas and NFA Coach Saswadimata Dasuki were among those who had benefitted from attachment stints with clubs in Europe during the past one year.

13. Going forward, the FAS will continue to develop collaborative partnerships with our partners to systematically groom our youth players, and at the same time, provide an opportunity for our coaches to learn from the best youth coaches and clubs in the world.


S.LEAGUE

14. The S.League continues to be the base on which local football talents are developed and prepared for international football. 

15. FAS places on record our appreciation for the efforts put in by our S.League clubs and, in particular, to S.League Club Chairmen for their dedication and relentless efforts over the years which have further improved and strengthened their club operations and management capabilities. At the same time, the commitment of our club chairmen and staff in reaching out to the community has played a key role in raising the attendance figures at S.League matches this year. We are pleased to note that our successes at the AFF Suzuki Cup and MSL have helped to boost interest and attendance figures at S.League matches.

16. We are also grateful to our sponsors, including Great Eastern, YEO’s, StarHub and Courts, among others, for their staunch support over the years.

17. Earlier this year, we announced new initiatives aimed at raising both the quality of play on the pitch as well as enhancing match-day experience for our fans. These include the Star Player scheme, increased quota of foreign players, new competition format, new fitness test, increase in prize money and a new operations team to assist S.League clubs in marketing and outreach matters. We are encouraged by the support from our key stakeholders, including the fans, and we will continue to explore ways to attract more fans to the stadiums.

 

Corporate Social Responsibility

18. The successes that we have achieved on the pitch also bring forth the importance of ensuring that we remain committed to our responsibilities off the pitch. As a national sports association, FAS holds a pivotal position and is able to create a positive impact to the community at large. One of the many community-driven initiatives that we have started – together with our partners, the Singapore Recreation Club and the Singapore Pools – was the inaugural Football with a Heart (FWAH) charity fundraiser. This inaugural event, which took place in June last year, raised $250,000 for the beneficiaries namely, Apex Harmony Lodge, Bo Tien Welfare Services Society, CARE United, Jamiyah Children’s Home, President’s Challenge 2012, and Ren Ci Hospital.  The second instalment of FWAH, in which a five-a-side football tournament was held on 24 August this year, raised more than $400,000 for nine charities. I would like to thank those who have been involved in one way or another.

19. We look forward to working with our partners and stakeholders to introduce more initiatives and programmes to benefit the less-fortunate and those in need in our society.


Remembering the late George Suppiah and Adrian Dhanaraj

20. The Singapore football fraternity mourned the passing of George Suppiah, who passed away on 7 December 2012.  He was the first Singapore referee to officiate at a FIFA World Cup match. As a fitting tribute to a great ambassador for the sport, a minute of silence was observed before the kick-off of the second leg of the AFF semi-final match between Singapore and the Philippines at the Jalan Besar Stadium on 12 December 2012. The football community also paid tribute to Adrian Dhanaraj, who passed away on 11 September 2013. Adrian was one of Singapore’s promising footballers and is known for his fighting spirit both on and off the field. A minute of silence was observed at the League Cup finals on 14 September, S.League game between Geylang International and Courts Young Lions and Malaysia Cup match between LionsXII and Sarawak on 18 September.


Recent achievements

21. As you would agree with me, Singapore football is indeed making significant progress, and is on the right track. In summary, we have achieved the following during the past reporting period:

a)    The LionsXII clinching the Malaysian Super League 2013 despite being made up primarily of players under the age of 23;

b)    The National ‘A’ Team winning the AFF-Suzuki Cup for a record fourth time;

c)    Our NFA Under-16 team performed well at the 24th Canon Lion City Cup, going all the way to the final, beating Ajax 2-1 in their opener and Vasco da Gama 4-0 in the semi-finals, before finishing runners-up;

d)    Nine S.League clubs have Centre of Excellence (COE) teams in the 2012 season, with three age groups (Under-14, Under-16 and Under-18), thus providing our youth players with a long-term training and development pathway;

e)    Organizing the FAS JCOE at Under-8, Under-10 and Under-12 levels to identify and develop our very young players;

f)     Introducing a pilot Under-6 JCOE programme to reach out to even younger boys

g)    Mr David Borja, FIFA Senior Manager, Development Programmes Asia, being impressed and encouraged by the progress of FAS’ Strategic Plan despite the Association not getting the necessary resources needed to execute the various programmes;

h)   The signing of MOUs to develop and enhance the capacities and capabilities of our players, coaches, administrators and referees;

i)     FAS organising the first AFC Pro-Diploma course in South-East Asia to elevate the qualifications and standard of our local coaches;

j)      Securing additional funding support for the S.League and FAS;

k)    Lions making progress on the international stage, improving on their FIFA rankings.


Looking ahead

22. We are heartened by the progress we have made in the various footballing areas. However, there remains a lot of hard work and areas for improvement. I would now like to share with you some of our upcoming plans and projects which are aimed at bringing Singapore football to the next level.


2013 & 2015 SEA Games

23. One of our goals in the FAS Strategic Plan is to prepare our National Under-23 team to target the gold medal at the 2015 SEA Games, which will be held at our Sports Hub. We are now working closely with our partners, including SSC, to ensure that the team receives the required level of support to achieve the gold medal in two years’ time. We will announce more details in due course.

24. We began a phased-approach in preparing our teams for the 2013 and 2015 editions of the SEA Games a few years ago. We are now in the final phase of preparations for the December 2013 edition of the SEA Games, where we hope to reach the final.

25. The bulk of the current Under-23 team are from the LionsXII, who recently clinched the 2013 Malaysian Super League while remaining undefeated at home all season. We have also sought the best possible preparations for our players, both as a team and as individual players: Earlier this month, our Under-23 team participated in the Merdeka Tournament, where they took on regional rivals Malaysia, Thailand, and Myanmar. They managed to clinch third placing after edging Thailand 2-1 in the third/fourth playoff. We are less than 10 weeks away from the SEA Games in Myanmar and we will continue to ensure that the team receives the maximum level of support as they strive to do us proud at the biennial event.


National Team

26. At the international level, we are pleased to note that the players are enjoying a new style of football under national coach Bernd Stange. With his wealth of experience and expertise, Stange has what it takes to bring our national team to the next level. He had achieved remarkable results with Belarus, and led them to a FIFA ranking of 36th in 2011, up from 90th position in 2008. Stange will play a key role in grooming and developing a strong national team. Since leading the Lions to a victory over Myanmar in his first match in early June, Stange has handed international debuts to at least 6 players and this bodes well for the future of Singapore football since we are developing and grooming a national team which is capable to qualify for the 2019 Asian Cup.


S.League

27. On the S.League, many initiatives have been undertaken with the ultimate aim of supporting our very own professional league. We are constantly looking at ways to improve the overall match experience, including “live” social media updates on matches, implementation of numerous community outreach programmes including kiddies’ football before matches, and flyer distributions in the heartlands of the clubs to raise awareness of both the local clubs, as well as their upcoming matches. We are encouraged by a substantial increase in attendance for the first round of matches this year – a 45-percent increase – compared to the first round last year, following these new marketing initiatives, as well as the enhanced interest level in football following the recent successes at the AFF Suzuki Cup and MSL campaigns.

28. The S.League has come a long way and I must thank the commitment and dedication of the respective club Chairmen who have made much sacrifices and commitment in running their respective clubs. The quality of the teams, and in particular the foreign signings, have vastly improved and this only brings more excitement on the pitch.

29. We remain committed to raising both the quality of play on the pitch as well as match-day experience for our fans. Ultimately, this is our professional league and we will continue to explore ways to attract more fans to the stadiums.


National Football League

30. The FAS has embarked on a review of the NFL, taking the inputs and feedback received to bring the NFL to the next level, which is in line with our strategic objectives contained in our FAS Strategic Plan. It is our objective to raise the level of competition from the organisational perspective as well as to improve the profile and quality of our amateur clubs. To achieve this, the NFL clubs will be required to do their part and we will continue to work closely with them to strengthen the NFL.

31. For a start, we have introduced the NFL Club Licensing Criteria, in January this year, which determined the eligibility and readiness of clubs to compete in the 2013 NFL season. The Licensing Criteria sets out the mandatory minimum standards that clubs must comply with, in areas such as club administration, management and technical staff, in order to achieve the objective of improving our clubs’ structure and organisation. For example, clubs playing in Division 1 should have a coach with the AFC ‘B’ coaching license qualification, while coaches for Divisions 2 and 3 should possess at least the AFC ‘C’ coaching license. This will in turn lead to a leaner and stronger NFL. I am pleased to note the hard work put in by our NFL clubs earlier this year, and that almost all clubs have met the criteria. To help bridge the gap and create a link between the NFL and the S.League, we have also given NFL clubs the opportunity to test themselves in this year’s StarHub League Cup against S.League teams. This initiative has been well-received, created some excitement, and we hope that it will continue to spur our NFL clubs to raise their competitive game, and reach for greater heights.

32. Moving forward, we will be looking at enhancing the NFL Club Licensing Criteria, but in a progressive manner, so that no club will be left behind. Plans are already in place to streamline the competition structure of the NFL, focusing on quality over quantity. All these will form the next phase of the NFL’s development, as we look to cultivate the league into a more attractive and vibrant entity.

33. Going forward, we are also exploring the following initiatives and programmes for implementation, as part of the FAS Strategic Plan:

a) To grow the Football Development Fund to send more players, coaches and referees for overseas attachments to enhance their capabilities and capacities; 

b) Increasing the number of international matches and tournaments to complement the Lion City Cup for the viewing pleasure of our fans and to provide international match exposure for other national teams; arrange more overseas tours and invitational tournaments which will be key to the continued progress of the national team; launch of Merlion Cup when Sports Hub is completed next year;

c) Hosting the second edition of NexLions Cup early next year as a statement of intent by the FAS to promote and support the development of youth players to the senior team;

d) Introducing new initiatives for 2014 S.League, to attract new fans to our S. League, leveraging on the effect that the community outreach efforts by the clubs has on improving match attendances;

e) Exploring the possibility of bidding for the hosting rights of a FIFA Youth World Cup, this will enhance Singapore's reputation as a venue for international events and also add another dimension to our sporting culture. The FAS has been in communication with FIFA where we have expressed our desire to host the Youth World Cup in 2019. We will announce more details in due course;

f) The upcoming signing of a MOU with  French Football Federation which will give extra leverage to our continuous efforts to improve on the local football league with special focus on the following areas:

  • Youth development
  • Increased international exposure for local players by arranging for friendly games between French and Singapore clubs
  • Elevate and enhance local coaches’ expertise and capabilities through attachment stints at their prestigious training academies.
  • Raise and enhance clubs’ profiles through extensive cooperatives partnerships and CSR activities;

g) Our fourth FIFA Goal Project will see an installation of a new artificial turf at the Jalan Besar Stadium from this November, and it is expected to be completed in early 2014. The Project is set to fulfill our key objectives of increasing football participation, enhancing the competitiveness of our teams, and attracting world-class teams to consider Singapore as part of their training tours;

h) We are currently working with SSC on a range of possible options to support the National Teams’ training requirements, which include the refurbishment of the Geylang Field from early next year. We are also in discussion with SSC on the plan to build a National Training Centre, which will incorporate sports facilities and support services to develop the next generation of footballers in Singapore, as well as to position Singapore as an international training hub for world-renowned teams.

34. We are looking into the nuts and bolts of these new initiatives and programmes including funding. More details will be announced at the opportune time. With the staunch support from our stakeholders including MCCY, SSC, clubs, sponsors, fans, volunteers and the media, FAS has achieved considerable progress in the implementation of our Strategic Plan. We are also encouraged and humbled by the technical assessments made by leading football officials, who noted that we are on track to fulfilling the goals spelt out in our Strategic Plan. Several readers who wrote to the forum pages recently also agreed that the success of our youth development system, including interest in our players and coaches, is a testament of the good work done by the FAS.


Corporate Partners and Sponsors

35. I would like to thank our sponsors who have contributed to the success of Singapore football, including the S.League, National Teams, Courts Young Lions and LionsXII, among others. FAS would like to pay a special tribute to all our corporate partners for their invaluable contributions in cash and kind towards the promotion of Singapore football. Without the support of these partners, it will be impossible for the football development and excellence programmes and the S.League to succeed. On behalf of FAS, I would like to place on record our deepest appreciation to all of them.

36. Apart from sponsors, we would also like to express our gratitude to government agencies and partners such as MCCY, MOF, SSC, MCI, MDA, which came on board to support the different key strategic areas of FAS.

 

Outgoing Council Members

37. I would also like to thank the following eight outgoing Council members for their contribution to the development of Singapore football during the past few years – Ms Ang Lay Kwang, Mr Bala Chandran s/o A Kandiah, Mr Daisuke Korenaga, Mr Jackson Yap Kit Siong, Mr Koh Siong Ling, Mr Leong Kok Fann, Mr Mohd Muzammil Bin Mohd, and Mr Panthradil George Samuel. We are grateful to each of them for their staunch support and commitment towards the development of Singapore football in recent years. They have played a key role in helping our Association achieve many milestones and fulfil our goals aimed at bringing local football to a higher level, and I look forward to their continued support and insightful views and suggestions on local football.

 

Media

38. I wish to thank the members of the media, who are our partners, for their continued support and we hope that they will continue with the strong and focused support, and positive coverage which they have provided for Singapore football. This was especially apparent in the coverage our teams received when the National Team won the AFF-Suzuki Cup for a record fourth time, and also when the LionsXII won the 2013 Malaysian Super League title.

39. The media plays a key role in publicising our S.League and daily news coverage will certainly help to bring more fans to the matches. I sincerely hope that our friends from the media will continue to work with us and promote and publicise local football, including our S.League.


Volunteers & Fans

40. I would also like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt gratitude to all fans and volunteers who have assisted us in one way or another. We appreciate your commitment and contribution and we humbly ask that you continue to support us as we move into the second half of the implementation of our FAS Strategic Plan.


Conclusion

41. There are exciting times ahead for Singapore football although I should add that we must continue to persevere and overcome perennial challenges and constraints. We must therefore strive to secure more financial resources so as to execute the action plans identified in the Strategic Plan – each of which is key to the fulfilment of our various targets.

42. I am confident that with our continued hard work and perseverance, coupled with the strong support from our stakeholders, Singapore football will continue to progress.


Thank you. 

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