On 23 June in a post on their website, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) announced a Players’ Concierge initiative aimed at helping professional “national team football players”.
Nothing wrong with that, but the devil is always in the details, and unfortunately, there was very little available.
The national football body also made an error with identifying their own national player in the website blog post, which TMSG spotted.
FIRST, THE DETAILS
In an effort to assist national team footballers with their retirement plans well in advance before they make the decision to hang up their boots, the FAS announced the launch of the Players’ Concierge initiative.
It was launched on the sidelines of the three-day UEFA Career Assist Workshop that was held in Singapore from 20 to 22 June 2023.
The FAS Players’ Concierge is a support system that empowers retired football players with “the necessary tools to support their growth beyond their playing careers, as well as support the budding careers and livelihood of current players”.
THE PLAYERS CONCIERGE AND WHAT IT MEANS
The project is the brainchild of Baihakki Khaizan, a former Singapore international with 140 appearances for Singapore.
He said, “During our playing careers, we do not have the time to actually look into other options, and once we decide to retire, we might find ourselves unsure what to do next.
“Through the FAS Players’ Concierge, I hope this initiative can serve our national players, both current and former, by guiding and equipping them with the necessary tools to prepare for life after football.
“In the long run, I want to assure the public, especially parents of aspiring footballers of the next generation, that football can be a viable career which does not end once they hang up their boots.”
The FAS Players’ Concierge comprises of six pillars, as follows:
- International Cap Bonus (already in existence since early 2000s)
- Scholarship Credits (already in existence)
- Job Opportunities
- Education Partnership
- Coaching Pathways
- Overseas Support
For the job opportunities, the FAS said that it was working with government agencies Workforce Singapore and Skillsfuture Singapore for placements.
Question. Why has the FAS and its high profile board not brought any major corporate companies into their network of supporting companies to help the footballers?
Plus, how will the two national agencies help the footballers exactly?
Will they have a separate portal where the footballers can register at for special attention?
Or do they also need to go through the same process as everyone else who use the system?
Next, while it is great that the FAS now has a new education partner in Republic Polytechnic, the questions are who will pay for the education programmes?
Also, what happened to the FAS’ Memorandum of Understanding with the PSB Academy which was signed in July 2018.
Back then, the exact same narrative was used – to help equip players for life.
Why did the FAS not make mention of this MOU and how many footballers it managed to get attend courses offered during the period of the MOU?
Also, what is the eligibility for the players? Will a player who is called up to the team but isn’t fielded eligible?
Does a player who has played only once for the Lions also eligible for the entire slew of support systems?
What about the rest of the footballers who play in the Singapore Premier League who do not end up wearing a Lions jersey?
A point also noted by football commentator Shasi Kumar in a tweet.
Additionally, the FAS announced the Concierge for players who are headed overseas.
Is this only for the male footballers?
What happens to women footballers who need help?
And why also not for coaches, or other personnel involved in football who may be poached to work overseas?
While it is noteworthy that Baihakki, in his new role is keen to make a change, the FAS needs to look at the bigger football picture.
This new programme has not been thought through well enough unfortunately, and appears to be just making announcements for the sake of doing so, without any real value add.
The term for this is wishy washy.
MAIN PHOTO: FAS