Sunday, June 13, 2010
What Happened to Goal 2010?
So world cup fever is here.
What happened to our Goal 2010 anyway? Why isn't Singapore in the World Cup yet?
Slovenia just beat Algeria like 1-0. Slovenia only has a population of 2 million and they have managed to enter the world cup twice already!
Singapore already has a population of close to 5 million but we are still nowhere closer to our dream.
I mean fine...we can be contented with being the Champions in women's ping pong and stuff but I still believe that the holy grail in sports for Singapore is the World Cup. Singaporeans are quite passionate about soccer. I can tell that from my facebook alone. I have never seen a facebook status that comments about any other sport OTHER than SOCCER. So soccer is really something that most Singaporeans are passionate about. Ping pong.....sorry....didn't cause much of a buzz on my facebook account as far as I can tell.
Why Isn't Singapore in the World Cup Yet?
I was actually lying in bed preparing to sleep when I started pondering over this question. It got me so agitated that I just had to get up and write about it (as well as catch the match between Serbia and Ghana).
Why aren't we in the world cup yet ? A small population is not an excuse...
Slovenia has been in the world cup TWICE. They only have 2 million people and since only males can play in the World Cup, I figured that they only have like 1 million males? So if Slovenia can make it to the World Cup, there is no reason why we can't do it too.
I guess the main reason is that we LACK FOCUS. We have diversified our attention to sports that have managed to reap rewards. This include table tennis and swimming. But are these sports really able to galvanise the entire nation? South Korea just reported having a few hundred thousand people gathering on the streets to cheer their nation on. If Singapore ever got into the World Cup, I am sure that will happen too. But somehow, somewhere, somebody decided that Singapore soccer was not going to make it and dropped the Goal 2010....
Let's be realistic here...counting on foreigners to help us get into the World Cup is not going to work out well. It might work for table tennis and swimming but it certainly will not work well for the World Cup. Football is a game about 11 people playing as a team. The best players in the world will never come to Singapore to play football. FULLSTOP. We need to stop relying on foreign talent and count on our local talent instead. The foreign talent strategy does not seem to be working well in football.
How to Get into the World Cup
What you are about to read from here onwards is going to sound ludicrous. It might even sound crazy. But this is coming at the height of football fever, so no suggestion should ever be treated as crazy.
We need to SEND OUR PLAYERS ABROAD for exposure and experience. That is what the South Koreans have been doing. And I think their strategy will pay off as many of their players are playing in European clubs now giving them the necessary exposure. They no longer "fear" their European counterparts as they have experience playing with them And we all know that this kind of exposure is very important especially on the big stage.
Here comes the tricky part. Big European clubs will not be willing to accept our Nor Alam Shahs and what nots...
Well, the answer is actually quite simple. We get GIC and Temasek to buy these clubs. (See, now you know that I am crazy. But just humour me for a while =) Since these clubs are treated like businesses, it will not be difficult to liquidate these holdings in the future. Who knows? We might even make a profit from selling these clubs in the future.
Based on my "pluck from the air" estimates, I figured that our reserves should be able to buy us a couple of good clubs in England, Italy, Spain, Germany, France and whatever league there may be in Europe. We can also buy a few lower league clubs if they are cheaper.
The next thing will then be to sponsor teenage boys (12 years old onwards) to go on attachments to these clubs for exposure. Food, lodging, pay, etc will be sponsored by these clubs so it is a win-win situation for us. My estimate is 2-3 Singaporeans per club due to the foreigner limit that is usually in place. My guess is that we will need a good 30 to 40 players to be exposed (at any one time) to European kind level of competition to ever make it for the World Cup. Based on that figures, we might need to buy 13 to 15 clubs (with perhaps 5 clubs in the championship level kind of leagues).
There will also have to be a major revamp in the Singapore sports scene. Focus will have to be given to soccer.
This might involve eliminating sports from CCAs in schools. Let boys concentrate only on soccer. This will have to be nation wide sacrifice. These boys can join 2nd or 3rd CCAs that are not soccer if they want to. But all boys in all schools will have compulsory soccer lessons and CCA. Only if they are really bad will they be kicked out of the sport.
To incentivise it, a program can be developed such that boys who make it to the very top will be exempted from National Service, given the chance to be attached to the major clubs (that are now owned by Temasek and GIC), etc, etc. In other words, we must make it really attractive monetarily for them to want to represent Singapore at the highest level.
The S-League will also need to be revamped to ensure that the "local soccer scholars" do not lose out because of the lack of international exposure. More foreign teams should be invited to join the S-League. A super league should be created with tempting prize money. Perhaps only 2 All-Singaporean teams will be allowed while the rest will be foreign teams. This will help to ensure that the S-League is also able to churn out good players who might be late bloomers compared to the "overseas soccer scholars" who have already secured their places in the Singapore owned European clubs.
Once we do this, I am sure we are set for World Cup glory in maybe 10 years time. Goal 2020 perhaps?
Am I crazy? Perhaps.. But this idea doesn't stop me from dreaming....
1. Our small size in population does not mean we need to rely on foreign talent in the strategy outlined above. We could have 1 or 2 foreign talent if we need to but this could be best reserved for the coaching staff.
2. We might be small in physical size. But if the Koreans and Japanese can make it, I am sure Singaporean males can do it too. Football is not really ALL about size. The Spanish footballers are also quite small in size too (1.7m tall).
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