FAS ● Sep 15, 2022
Lim Kia Tong, a devoted champion of Singapore football
SINGAPORE, 15 SEPTEMBER 2022 – Awestruck by the magical skills of Dollah Kassim, Mohammad “Mat” Noh Hussein, Quah Kim Song, S. Rajagopal and more of their ilk from the 1960s and 1970s, Lim Kia Tong’s passion for football was nurtured from young.
Born in January 1952, the future lawyer was a right-sided player during his National Service days and also represented the then-University of Singapore while retaining interest in other sports like tennis, squash, badminton and athletics. It was natural that Lim’s fascination with football led to his first involvement with the administrative side of the local game in April 1992, when he became a member of the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) Disciplinary Committee.
Lim never imagined that he – “a man from the non-political side”, as he reflected in a media interview last year – would one day end up heading the FAS. But he did, as the first ever elected President of the FAS in April 2017 and again for a second term which was a result of an unopposed re-election four years later – always with the most fervent dedication, up until his tragic passing earlier on Wednesday, 14 September 2022 at the age of 70.
For much of the past 30 years, Lim spent his time pushing Singapore football forward in various capacities. At the FAS, he first became a Council Member in April 1999 and went on to become Chairman of the FAS Appeal Committee, Disciplinary Committee, Football Excellence Committee, Player’s Status Committee, among other roles. The Vice President post was first taken on by him in April 2007 and eventually, he assumed the role of President. Between 1999 and 2001, Lim also spent time as Team Manager of the Singapore National Teams in futsal and from Under-18 to Under-20 level.
Beyond our shores, Lim represented the country with distinction. At the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), his involvement began in 2003 as a member of its Legal Committee. In 2007, Lim became a member of the AFC Disciplinary Committee and went on to become Chairman in March 2011; spells as Chairman of the AFC Disciplinary & Ethic Committee and the AFC Electoral Committee followed. It was unsurprising that FIFA, football’s world governing body, eventually took notice of Lim’s talents. In May 2013, two years after becoming a member of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee, he was elected as its Deputy Chairman – in the process becoming the first Singaporean to ever take up a leadership role on a FIFA committee. He was also part of the FIFA Ad Hoc President Electoral Committee in 2015 and 2016 and remained as a member of the Disciplinary Committee from 2017 to 2021.
A firm believer in working hard, Lim balanced all his voluntary duties in football with his other true passion – reading and practicing law. After graduating with honours in 1979, he began a private practicing career in January 1980 that would span 42 years. His two children, a daughter and a son, would follow in his footsteps by becoming lawyers – in their father, they had a role model who gave his all every day, usually for 14 to 15 hours a day, attending to both his professional and footballing duties.
From colleagues, friends, players, officials, staff and more, Lim left an indelible mark on the paths of everyone he crossed. Tributes have poured in from across the globe, testament to his impact and legacy – tenacious, utterly devoted, highly respected, well-loved, committed, a firm supporter of football in Singapore and Southeast Asia who handled everything that came his way with grace and poise.
Most importantly, he was a kind and great man who often went above and beyond to extend help to those who needed it. Former Singapore striker Noh Alam Shah, whose frequent red cards during his playing career coincided with Lim’s time as Chairman of the FAS Disciplinary Committee, once said that they crossed paths so often that Lim “began to counsel” him about his behaviour. It worked and “I owe a lot to him”, Noh added. Without a doubt, Singapore football owes a great deal too to Lim Kia Tong, a great champion of The Beautiful Game.