FAS ● Dec 24, 2020
FAS President’s Christmas 2020 Message
My dear friends,
As we approach the end of what has been a tumultuous and eventful year, I hope all of you have been safe and well. With the festive season just around the corner, we should take some time to reflect upon what has transpired over the last 12 months, how it has impacted us and brought out qualities that we may not have thought we possessed or were capable of, to tackle the challenges that came our way.
For the football fraternity in particular, it has been a rollercoaster year of vicissitudes. We have had to endure the halt of our professional and amateur leagues when Covid-19 rounded upon us, and we were forced to conform to a new norm. Yet, I am proud to say, that in spite of all the challenges thrown in our path, we continued to put our best foot forward and came up with initiatives and activities, which demonstrated our adaptability and flexibility.
The year-end festive season is a time for us to espouse the spirit of giving, where we come together to celebrate the joyous occasion with our family and friends. The arrival of Christmas also coincides with the transition of our nation into Phase Three of our fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. We may not be completely out of the woods yet, but these are signs of positivity that we can definitely take heart in. As things slowly take a turn for the better, it is our hope that we can eventually resume international matches and tournaments when the time is right.
Yuletide, also known as the Winter Solstice celebration, originated from revelling the rebirth of the sun after a long winter season. It typically starts from Christmas day and ends 12 days later, representing a period of thanksgiving that stemmed from the lengthening of daytime and its accompanying warmth. Hence it is also an opportune moment for us to show our sincere gratitude to everyone within the football fraternity for walking this journey with us. From the early days of having to postpone leagues and international matches, we eventually progressed into the gradual resumption of the Singapore Premier League (SPL). Trainings first started out in small groups with safe distancing measures in place, before full training resumed. On 17 October this year, we were finally given the green light to restart the league albeit with games to be played behind closed doors.
With the cooperation of everyone involved, our safe resumption to football took place successfully without any hiccups. This would not have been possible without the concerted efforts of all. On 5 December, we eventually managed to become the first local sport to allow fans back into the stadium to watch one of the final matches of the season – Tampines Rovers versus Geylang International. Numbers were capped strictly at 200, and our tickets sold out within the second day of sale. It was heartening to see the strong support that our fans have shown us and this is a key example of how vital they are to our sport. Allowing us to welcome fans back into the stadium also shows the amount of trust that the authorities have placed in us to carry out the event successfully.
We have already crowned the champions of the SPL for the 2020 season and I would like to extend my heartiest congratulations once more to Albirex Niigata (S) FC for winning their fourth league title. Consistency in performance and results are never easy, but Albirex have shown us just how important discipline is in attaining success. On this front, I would also like to commend the performances of Tampines Rovers FC that ensured their qualification to the group stages of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League. The Stags had some standout performances throughout the campaign and managed to push the White Swans right down to the wire, resulting in an exciting finale where the title was won only on the final day of the competition.
While it is unfortunate that our amateur sides were unable to resume play this year, we are hopeful that with the commencement of Phase Three of the nation’s reopening, the relevant government bodies will subsequently grant us the official authorisation required for the go-ahead of the upcoming season. Our amateur leagues remain every bit as important to us, and we cannot undermine their significance in our football ecosystem. They represent a crucial platform of transition between the non-professional and professional playing field, and more importantly, they contribute vitally to our nation’s talent pool. We would like to reassure our friends from the amateur sides that we will definitely not stop championing for a restart to their leagues next season.
In the meantime, we will continue to find ways to ensure that we produce sufficient content for those involved in amateur football. Just last week, we completed the FAS Women’s Panna Challenge, an initiative brought about by FAS, media company Soccer Girl Goals and Expy the Lab to provide opportunities for our women players to continue engaging in the sport that they love, albeit with safe measures and controlled group sizes. We are encouraged by the positive responses garnered by the tournament and we will strive to continue organising more of such activities in time to come.
This month, we have also recently concluded our Football Association of Singapore (FAS) Awards Night, whereby the Player of the Year was crowned, together with the Young Player of the Year as well as the Coach of the Year amongst other awards. These prestigious awards exemplify the talent and skills of the individuals and I would like to congratulate Gabriel Quak, Saifullah Akbar and Keiji Shigetomi respectively. Hard work and discipline come to the fore in successful sportspeople and these three men definitely deserve all the accolades that have gone their way.
Now, as we ready ourselves to welcome the New Year ahead of us, I look forward to continuing this journey with you in the hopes that we can all take another step forward together in resuming normalcy. I am confident that if we come together as One Team Singapore, we will overcome all adversities in our way. I await the day when we can all cheer on our teams together in one voice, but in the meantime, we will ensure that we do not let our guard down in the fight against Covid-19, where the collective effort of everyone in the nation is required.
During this Christmas festive season, we hope that our Christian friends will enjoy the festive fare of turkey and logcakes and spend quality time with their loved ones. We also look forward to seeing the adornment of beautiful decorations across the island, including the ornamental Christmas trees!
On behalf of the FAS Council and staff, I wish all of you and your loved ones a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Lim Kia Tong