Geylang International coach Mohd Noor Ali let loose and slammed the way professional football in Singapore was being run after his Geylang Eagles were not allowed to train on their home ground for a week because Our Tampines Hub (OTH), the shared homeground with Tampines Rovers – was apparently being used for the JSSL Professional Academy 7s, a 7-a-side football tournament organised by a private academy which is supported by Singapore Tourism Board.
The OTH pitch was declared to be in a state that is unfit and unsafe for professional competition football and has fallen short of expected standards.
The Eagles Singapore Premier League match against Balestier Khalsa, scheduled to be held on 11 April at OTH, has since been postponed to 12 April and will now be played at the Jalan Besar Stadium instead.
“What is most worrying is not that the game is postponed, but the injury risk the pitch poses,” Eagles coach Noor Ali told the Straits Times.
“It also did not help that the pitch was block booked and we couldn’t train at OTH for the whole of last week.
“Instead, we moved around like nomads and trained at Bedok, St Wilfred and Jalan Besar, and the quality of our training was compromised.
“This shouldn’t be happening in professional football.”
Noor added that the team trained for the first time on 10 April after a week of running around, and then requested FAS to come down to inspect the pitch.
“We did so to protect both teams who were supposed to play there on Tuesday,” said Noor.
An OTH spokesperson told the Straits Times that they were in agreement with the FAS that the “OTH pitch was unsafe for a competitive football match.”
“While we understand the frustration of not being able to compete on match day after extensive preparation for it, the safety of the players is of utmost concern.
“The pitch was damaged after a seven-a-side youth tournament organised by the JSSL Singapore Professional Academy from 7 April to 9 April 2023.”
The OTH spokesperson added that some instances include damaged segments and the inability to remove temporary lines drawn on the pitch for the seven-a-side matches.
“The pitch was last returfed in 2017 and will be returfed next year (2024) as part of our cyclical maintenance programme.”
Our Tampines Hub is a community facility which is owned and managed by People’s Association.
MAIN PHOTOS: STRAITS TIMES, GEYLANG INTERNATIONAL