Commentary: More Opportunities For Amateur Teams?

Amateur sides Academy Junior Football and Kembangan United battling it out in a NFL Division 2 league game.
Photo: Andrew Him

Rennard Ho
The Unofficial S.League Podcast

I covered amateur and social football back then in the years of 2012-2014, and I made many friends in this small community, who were surprisingly very passionate and keen for more.

Despite having to fork out hard-earned money to play on the pitch - where they sometimes picked up injuries which affected their daily lives - they loved what they did, but it was always the same old thing every single week.

A casual follower of Korean football, I have been watching lower-tier teams take on top-tier opposition in their annual FA Cup - where 2016 Asian Champions League winners Jeonbuk Hyundai were eliminated by second-tier opposition Bucheon 1995 in the round-of-16.

The competition starts with teams from the very bottom of the football structure taking on each other, representing hospitals and universities.

After the first few rounds, the K-League Challenge (tier 2) sides are introduced and they play the various winners, before the K-League Classic (tier 1) sides eventually enter the competition.

I have been thinking about this for quite some time now, and I wonder if Singapore football could adopt such a structure, to provide a more inclusive footballing environment for players who dwell inthe lower leagues. A competition where we pit representatives from our respective universities, IWL and NFL teams against one another is long due, and despite possible constraints, the FAS should consider keeping things fresh and interesting for players in the amateur scene.

However, there seems to still be an evident gap between amateur and professional teams here, therefore making amateur teams play S.League sides might not be the most viable idea.

Police Sports Association did no favours when they were thrashed 13-0 by Albirex Niigata (Singapore) when they played in the 2014 League Cup, and teams like Admiralty weren’t exactly convincing either, falling 2-1 to Harimau Muda B in the 2013 edition.

The 2015 edition saw both Singapore Recreation Club and Sporting Westlake crash out in the group stage, and after conceding 15 goals in 5 matches (total), killed FAS’s plans to introduce 2 amateur teams to the League Cup every year.

Despite that, one cannot argue that changes need to be introduced to the local footballing scene, and this move would spark newfound interest in the lower tiers, where amateur players toil every week with just passion to play for.

A competition like that would turn out to be rewarding for the players, and could also spark newfound interest in the local amateur scene.

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