FAS ● Feb 09, 2024

FAS President’s Lunar New Year 2024 Message



Dear members of the Singapore football fraternity,


On the eve of the Lunar New Year, I wish one and all a Happy Year of the Dragon!  As with all our festivals, this is a time for all of us to spend time with loved ones and friends.  For those that are also in the habit, it is also a time for new beginnings as we welcome a new year.  Here is also hoping the Dragon year delivers more babies for Singapore!


It is customary during these messages to take stock of events in football, and I am pleased to share with you two significant updates for February.


New Head Coach Appointment – Tsutomu Ogura


You would have no doubt read in the news over the last few days regarding the appointment of Tsutomu Ogura as the new Singapore National Team Head Coach.


Ogura-san (who says he will respond to Ogu-san) brings to Singapore a wealth of experience in his more than 30 years of involvement in the game.  He has had significant coaching experience at various clubs and also on the international stage with the Japan Football Association. He was part of the coaching team for Japan at the 2010 South Africa World Cup, and at the 2012 London Olympics, contributing to their commendable fourth-place finish.  Prior to joining us, Ogura-san was the Sporting Director of the Yokohama Marinos, a club that is part of the City Group.  He was also the Head First Team Coach of Tokyo Verdy, and played an instrumental role in guiding the team to a promotion to the J1 league for the first time in 15 years.


Ogura-san joins us at a crucial juncture.  We are in the midst of qualifying games for the upcoming FIFA World Cup 2026 and AFC Asian Cup Saudi Arabia 2027, with back-to-back games against China looming large on the horizon next month. He has made it his priority to get to know all our players, and to meet all the SPL clubs over the next few weeks.  We look forward to our members working with Ogura-san, in helping to prepare their players for selection.



We will be announcing shortly the commencement of an interim pre-season involving all local SPL clubs. This is an important series of games to help our players regain full fitness following the end of the season break, provide Ogura-san a platform to assess players available for our games against China and give fans a preview of what’s to come when the SPL resumes.


I have not really had the need to use a translator when talking to him, and he has a warm personality.  He converses in three languages, and has a penchant for story-telling.  He will no doubt share with you his many football stories.  Please welcome him to our Singapore family!


Singapore Youth League (SYL)


Earlier this week, we launched the Singapore Youth League. This is an important part of systemic changes we are making to the Singapore ecosystem.  In order for the youth in Singapore to develop in football, it is important that our young players both play frequently – more than 30 games a year – and that they play at the right level.  This league will be inclusive and has to focus on development rather than winning.  There will be adjustments that have to be made, including deconflicting the calendar with the National School Games, and other tournaments, and setting guardrails so that the young players are not torn in multiple directions.  We also want to make sure that better players have time training as an age group team that is capable of representing Singapore.


We will be kicking off the SYL in February this year.


The response to the inaugural Singapore Youth League (SYL) has been nothing short of extraordinary, and this is credit to the team that has been instrumental in reaching out to the ecosystem. We have over 200 registered teams from 52 clubs and academies across various age groups.  This is testament to the fervor that the SYL has generated since the call for participation last December.


The league above all wants to imbue in our children to learn the values of a sportsman.  We want them to compete, but also to understand that it is a game, and the ability to win fairly and lose graciously is more important than anything else.  It is also not about the individual, but about the team. We want parents to also be involved. We will be exploring ways in which they can be more than spectators, to be involved in a meaningful way to contribute to the development of their children in the realm of football.


This league is truly ours, owned by Singapore and made strong by Singaporeans.


I look forward to a busy February.  May the Dragon Year bring us collective prosperity and success, both on and off the pitch.


Wishing you and your loved ones a joyous and prosperous Lunar New Year!


Warm regards,

Bernard Tan