Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Knock-knock, lah

Singapore is a popular topic in the soccer world these days, albeit for all the wrong reasons. A still-unfolding match-fixing scandal threatens to turn the Little Red Dot into a world soccer pariah and, if that wasn't enough, the locals can't even be bothered to acknowledge their domestic league.
Fed up of playing in front of sparse crowds in Singapore's poorly attended S.League, players from Balestier Khalsa are going door-to-door to try to drum up their fan base.
"The more often the players go knocking on doors, the higher the chances of them becoming familiar with residents," Balestier chairman S Thavaneson told Monday's Today newspaper. "Who knows, they may become curious and decide to watch a game or two."
According to the article, the S.League had an average attendance of 932 last season. Why? Partly because of the Europoseurs, a problem that has plagued many an up-and-coming league and against which I have previously railed.
While Singaporeans are huge soccer fans, they are far more interested in watching English Premier League giants Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal on television rather than going to see local teams like Balestier, Woodlands Wellington and Tanjong Pagar United.
This news makes me sad. There is good soccer on display in Singapore, and the league has local players who at least are the equal of their peers in Southeast Asia. I've heard various excuses from Singaporeans about why they don't go to games -- it's too hot (Note: It's always too hot in Singapore), late kickoffs run too close to EPL games, the soccer isn't good enough, etc. All classics from the Europoseur songbook.

You know what's certain not to help things improve? Ignoring your local club and/or league in favor of teams you might get to see play in person once a decade. If you need a reminder of what it's like to be a fan, look across the strait and emulate Indonesia for a change -- those folks know how to support their club and have a good time, even if the footie isn't up to more exacting standards.

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