Domestic Competitions ● Apr 29, 2018
National Football League 2018 Season Kicks Off with Inaugural Challenge Cup
SINGAPORE, 29 APRIL 2018: The 2018 National Football League (NFL) season was officially launched today with an exciting opening ceremony at Jalan Besar Stadium.
The highlight of the evening was the staging of the inaugural NFL Challenge Cup, which also doubled up as the first match of the NFL Division One season. The new initiative was introduced by the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) this year to provide higher competitive value to the league and to create greater excitement in the opening of the NFL.
Earlier in the day, NFL Division Two sides Jungfrau Punggol FC and Singapore Khalsa Association played out a 2-2 draw in their season opener, which served as a curtain-raiser to the Challenge Cup.
That set the stage for a thrilling clash afterward, where defending NFL champions Yishun Sentek Mariners FC emerged victorious over the Singapore Armed Forces SA (SAFSA) by a 5-3 score-line and hoisted the first ever NFL Challenge Cup.
Yishun Sentek Mariners assistant coach Gusta Guzarishah said: “I think that the Challenge Cup is a good initiative by the FAS and my players were looking forward to this game. I’m happy that we got the win and our first three points. It’s a good win for the team and their confidence.”
Besides the Challenge Cup, this season will see the introduction of the fourth official. This is to enhance the professionalism of the NFL Competition and to bring it on par with the standard for the Singapore Premier League. There will also be a change in the FA Cup format – this year, it will be contested solely by NFL teams.
Guest-of-Honour Mr Lim Kia Tong, FAS President, said: “The NFL is an important part of Singapore’s football ecosystem, providing amateur footballers with a platform to express their passion for football and to showcase their potential. With the new initiatives for this 2018 season, we hope to improve the quality of the league so it can be a breeding ground for new talent for the Young Lions, Singapore Premier League and the National Team.”
FAS Vice President Mr Teo Hock Seng, Council members Michael Foo and Rizal Rasudin and Acting General Secretary Yazeen Buhari were also present to witness the opening of the 2018 NFL season. National Team players Shawal Anuar and Anders Aplin, who both came through the NFL and are team-mates at Geylang International FC, were also invited as special guests for the event.
Sharing his experience in the NFL, Aplin said: “I was in JC (Junior College) when I first joined the NFL and it provided me the opportunity to play week in, week out at a higher level than school football. As a young player then, the NFL toughened me up and made me stronger.
“Compared to when I was playing, there is now more recognition and support from the FAS towards the NFL. There are opportunities for all – you just need to keep working on it and and train hard.
Shawal added: “Playing in the NFL was tough but it has really encouraged me to work hard and pushed me so that I can be a better player. The environment and coaches can stimulate you to reach a professional level, so keep trying and never give up.”