A couple of Mothership.sg folks spent the evening before the long weekend listening to an almost three-hour long press conference held by one of the two main teams contesting to be the next leadership team of the Football Association of Singapore (FAS).
Yes, three hours long. Even election rallies end an hour earlier, at 10pm.
They probably had a lot to say because this is the first time in Singapore’s football history that a democratic election is taking place.
The challenging team to the incumbent team is Game Changers, led by Hougang United chairman Bill Ng.
On April 29, Ng’s Game Changers will contest against Team LKT, a group led by former FAS provisional council president Lim Kia Tong.
Other than the fiery discussion on Ng’s donations to FAS, here are five interesting observations we made at the challenging team’s press conference on April 13.
1. The Games-changers have seven strategies to transform Singapore
Just like the Committee of Future Economy (CFE), the team also presented seven strategies — Administration, Technical, Facilities, Talent scouting, Commercial activities, Player care, Competitions — to transform the local football scene.
And the person who had the toughest night of all?
The poor TODAY reporter whose editor thought that it was a brilliant idea to go FB live on an evening before a public holiday and long weekend.
We do not know what he was filming at the end of the nearly 3-hour marathon press conference, but we know he was still conscious enough to switch off the FB live function. (PS: Check out the last 23s of the clip — we also know that his ringtone is DNCE’s “Body Moves”)
There was a famous saying by Liverpool football legend Bill Shankly,
“Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.”
You can feel the passion and commitment of these well-qualified folks, who thought of football as more important than the economy that they took longer than the Ministers to articulate their vision for Singapore’s football.
Either that or Singapore football is in so much of a worse shape than Singapore’s economy.
2. Money, money, money.
Upon stepping into Clifford Pier, where the Game Changers press conference was held, we immediately noticed how swanky everything was.
From the location, to the set up, and to the food, it was as if we just entered US President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago as a bunch well-heeled socialites.
No doubt all the glitz and glamour stood in stark contrast to the usual press conferences we attend, which are generally more toned down and monotonous-looking. That said, it was certainly a refreshing (and delicious) change from the norm.
Perhaps they had already expected the press conference to run overtime, so the need to compensate with a fancy environment was enacted. There was a point where even one of the panel members added wryly that they deserve the vote not only because of the sumptuous dinner that was provided.
But with all the money and effort put into the congress, it still seemed like they could not afford a more proficient PowerPoint slide manager, who for the better part of the presentation, lagged behind what was being spoken by the members.
On another question about money and “donations”, we refer you to another article (“Football leadership elections: Power, ‘donations’ and much intrigue revealed in the campaign“)
3. Yes, Bill Ng is the Hougang United Chairman but this is not your typical “opposition rally”.
Think of the name Hougang, and you will recall the sweaty atmosphere at the political rallies in the area and the people in blue shouting “Workers’ Party, Workers’ Party”.
As we approached the glitzy event, we noticed the likes of socio-political sites The Online Citizen, The Independent, and Yahoo News, invited together with the mainstream media.
Immediately, one appreciates the uniqueness of the mood because this is in stark contrast with the
incumbent team that names itself after the initials of its leader.
In a display of Team Game-changers’ organisational abilities, participants were given a nifty goody bag, packed with the team’s manifesto, a shirt, and a badge.
Some football royalties were spotted at the event too – football legends such as vice-captain of the 1994 Dream Team Malek Awab, our most capped national player Daniel Bennett (132 caps), and national striker Khairul Amri.
4. NFL > S.League
While the National Football League (NFL) is considered to be the poorer cousin of S.League, it holds plenty of sway in the upcoming election.
Why? 23 of the 44 voting members come from the NFL — the team who captures this majority will most likely go on to win the election.
Little wonder that Team Game Changers decided to go big on NFL, introducing new commercial approach to make S.League more self-sustaining so that the subsidies could go to NFL clubs, who have not been given much attention.
In fact, they even named a NFL man Muhammad Zaki as one of the Vice Presidents — a move that perhaps signals the emphasis on the amateur league.
Not that the incumbent is not out to woo NFL clubs (there’s also a NFL man in Team LKT’s electoral team) but the timing is perhaps a little convenient.
TODAY newspaper quoted a NFL official who declined to be named: “Lim, as FAS vice-president previously, could have effected change in the NFL if he really wanted to, To show interest in improving the NFL when the elections are coming…I feel like it’s all to get our votes.”
5. Will Edwin Tong lose twice?
The ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) MP, who represents Pastor Kong Hee, already tasted defeat — at least in the eyes of the church — in the City Harvest Church appeal case in April. With Tong part of Team LKT, will he continue his losing streak?
One thing’s for sure, his political party and members are not used to losing. Definitely not twice in a month.
Top photo from Instagram.