Women's ● Mar 08, 2022
First-ever Women’s Football Conference held in spirit of AFC Women’s Football Day
Panelists from the AFC, Japan’s Women Empowerment League and FAS Women’s Committee spoke in depth on the development of women’s football
SINGAPORE, 8 MARCH 2022 – The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) held the first Women’s Football Conference on 5 March 2022 at the Singapore Sports Hub, in celebration of the annual Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Women’s Football Day and International Women’s Day.
The conference, which was attended by 100 guests and more participants virtually, raised pertinent topics on the development of women’s football in Singapore in four sessions: Let Them Play, Let Them Soar, Rise to the Roar and Hear Us Roar.
The event started with a virtual presentation from AFC Head of Women’s Football Development Ms Bai Lili, who shared about several programmes in Asia catered to advancing the game to girls and the environment needed for these grassroots efforts to take off. Several other guests then shared their experiences of developing the game, including Mr Ling Beng Huat, a teacher from Methodist Girls’ School who started girls’ football as a co-curricular activity in two secondary schools.
“It started with a female student having the interest to play and I allowed her to join the boy’s CCA. She turned up with another female friend and slowly, it grew from there,” he said.
The conference was graced by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong, who shared his fervent support in advancing the women’s game through the inclusion of females in Unleash The Roar’s School Football Academies (SFAs). He said: “We launched a number of these academies for boys earlier this year, and are planning similar academies for girls. When established, the academies will provide girls with even more opportunities to play, experience and enjoy football.”
The ‘Let Them Soar’ session focused in-depth on SFAs, with Queensway Secondary School’s Head of Department of CCA, Mr Justin Fernandez, affirming the commitment it will provide to female footballers’ pathways. Having produced notable alumni like Lionesses Dorcas Chu and Putri Syaliza, he believes that the SFA pathways will provide more stability to recruit female footballers and place them in a better-structured programme for their development. With only 11 secondary schools offering the sport as a CCA, the hope is that more schools will follow suit.
The conference also introduced the all-female ActiveSG Football Academy (AFA) Under-12 and Under-17 programmes to fill the gaps that female footballers face. As girls are currently adopted in a co-ed programme, Principal of AFA, Mr Aleksandar Duric, noted that numbers are slow to rise. The AFA U12 programme will aim to have five centres spread across the nation, with the first opening at Toa Payoh Stadium later this month.
Later, the conference delved into women’s leagues becoming semi and fully professional with sharings from Chairwoman of Japan’s Women Empowerment (WE) League, Ms Kikuko Okajima and former Deputy Chief Executive of Thai League, Mr Benjamin Tan. Former Lioness and Virginia United player, Priscilla Tan, also connected virtually to speak about her experience as a semi-professional player in Australia.
FAS Head of Competitions, Mr Aloysius Vetha, then introduced a club licensing system for women’s clubs. The concept will start with a pilot programme for two years before being enforced in 2024. The Women’s Premier League clubs will have to ensure they manage the five pillars of sporting, infrastructure, legal, administration and personnel, and finance to ensure more stability at the top of the women’s game.
Discussions then moved towards the importance of branding women’s football, led by FAS Women’s Committee member, Mr James Walton and former Mediacorp Celebrity Agency executive Jasmin Chong. Thereafter, host Collette Wong introduced the eight Women’s Football Ambassadors, who are tasked to be role models and promote the game. The ambassadors are Aleksandar Duric, Beatrice Tan, Baihakki Khaizan, Danelle Tan, Ernie Sulastri, Goh Tat Chuan, Priscilla Tan and Siti Rosnani Azman.
FAS President Lim Kia Tong was in attendance for the Conference and shared his views on the event saying: “The Women’s Football Conference is great success and is indeed a significant moment for Singapore’s football. The FAS, it’s Council & Women’s Committee members, stakeholders, coaches, players and the community have come together to share and endorse how far the women’s game has come and how much further it can and should go. This is indeed a very encouraging sign for the development and growth of women’s football in Singapore.
“With such positive landscape of Women’s football, we strongly encourage more schools to adopt the sport, so that more girls can have and relish the opportunity to play the beautiful game and thereby enabling them to pursue their footballing dreams and aspirations in marriage with their academic pursuits.”
The AFC Women’s Football Day celebrations concluded at the OCBC Square where the U12 Girls’ Football Fiesta kicked off. Over 40 girls between the ages of eight and 12 were tasked to complete five game stations of 1v1s, juggling, relays and target practice before a trivia station led by several of the Lionesses.