Singapore will never make the World Cup



My brother Roy and I are part of the generation who grew up watching Malaysia Cup football at the old National Stadium. To us, the Kallang Wave was not a mall; it’s the passion of 55,000 fans.

At the old National Stadium, we cheered the 1994 Malaysia Cup winners, Singapore’s best-ever football team captained by Fandi Ahmad (still our only world-class footballer). Ranking high in our memories was the National Stadium’s greatest goal — THAT Sundram bicycle kick against Brunei. I was seated near the corner flag where Nazri delivered the cross. It was magic.

Singapore football’s greatest goal | Image credits: The New Paper

The ill-fated “Goal 2010” initiative was mooted some years later. Perhaps coincidentally, Singapore football began its downward spiral.

Today, in 2017, Singapore is nowhere near the World Cup. We’re not even Southeast Asia’s best team anymore. There is little joy in watching Singapore football. We’ve no more local football heroes, and struggle to fill our stadiums.

I’m no football expert, so can’t analyse what went wrong.

But the good thing about hitting rock bottom is there’s no way to go but up.

Grassroots Football and Intrinsic Motivations

Commentators point to strong “grassroots” movement as the driving force behind the rise of Iceland and Belgium from football minnows into world-beaters.

Where you would once struggle to name even 1 Belgian or Icelandic player, they are now lynchpins in top European clubs, including the Belgian trio (Vertonghen, Alderweireld & Dembele) of the mighty Tottenham Hotspur, who stands toe-to-toe with Champions League winners, Real Madrid. =)

One reason for success stemming from grassroots movements is the internalisation of motivations, which propels us to work harder than if change was pushed from external sources. Everyone fights harder when it’s a change WE believe in.

We’ve not had good grassroots football in Singapore for some time.

But there are green shoots.

A “grassroots” movement of kids’ football is taking flight, ironically from a government-led start: ActiveSG Football Academy (which must rank as one of SportSG’s best initiatives). Hundreds of boys and girls train in satellite centres all over Singapore 3 times a week: learning football, teamwork, sportsmanship and discipline. Parents are involved too; some join as assistant coaches, and some form their own ancillary sports activity groups. Fun and healthy, while spending time with the kids outdoors.


Grassroots Football: ActiveSG | Facebook

My daughter trained at the centre run by Malaysia Cup ’94 champion Steven Tan (how cool that Papa grew up watching “Coach Steven” as a player). I’ve no expectations she will be a professional footballer, but we will support her if it’s what she chooses.

I see the bunch of kids at training every weekend and can’t help but harbour hopes for our football future. Singapore still may not get to the World Cup, but we’ve started a movement, and our kids are better for it.

Multipliers through Upskilling Local Coaches

“Training the trainers” create multiplier effects, as great coaches spread good football techniques and life skills to ever-larger audiences of young footballers.

First Kick Academy (“FKA”) is doing just this. Their coach training programmes concentrate on training good people first, before training them to be good coaches.

FKA boss Jimmy is a former youth football player. Jimmy embraces the best coaching methods and partners with top football clubs worldwide such as Dutch club Sparta Rotterdam to import best-in-class coach training methods, infused with his own local knowledge and expertise.

I’m a big fan of Jimmy and FKA. I admire their international outlook, adoption of best-in-class methods, and embracing of technology to increase their programmes’ effectiveness and reach.

In a world where we need to keep “upskilling” ourselves, FKA is leading the charge with football coaches.

If you’ve interest to be a football coach, try FKA’s Nano Coach Profiler (which ArcLab worked with FKA to digitally embed their coaching philosophy using our nano learning tool) to see if you fit the bill. Or send it to those you think could benefit from FKA’s programme:

Singapore will never make the World Cup…

But I’m waiting for ActiveSG and First Kick Academy to prove me wrong, and look forward to the day that the Singapore Lions and Lionesses fly our national flag at the World Cup…

(And if you want to create your own Interactive Nano Learning content, it’s as easy as 1–2–3).

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