LET me regretfully recount this real-life grassroots incident:
I was very much saddened last month when a school principal told me that he invited a “prominent Singapore player” to give away prizes for an Under-10 tournament. The player, who has been playing for the Lions for six years, asked for an “event-appearance fee”, just to be present to inspire the youngsters and gift the prizes!
Please, my appeal to the footballing Lions: Stop being money-faced hypocrites.
This comes after Kadir Yahaya, a rising football coach I used to admire, came out with his “pay-for-play” proposal on the eve of the Suzuki Cup tournament.
Kadir Yahaya, a legend of the 1990s Malaysia Cup-winning Lions, told The New Paper tabloid newspaper: “We have to put perks in front of the national players”, as he noted that “there’s no motivation, pressure or challenge for players to want to be in the national team”.
In a nutshell, his solution to the problem was very selfish Singaporean: Show them (the Lions) the money!
That means, if I read him right, in Kadir’s books, probably monetise the fans to come and support the Lions. Maybe show the money for students to sing ‘Majullah Singapura’ before school starts. Possibly lure 18-year-olds with more dollar notes to learn military skills for National Service (NS) to defend the country. Why not even give the man-in-the-street the big bucks to go to church, mosque or temple?
It’s simply laughable and ludicrous because it borders on sheer mercenaryship.
In my opinion, Kadir must send a serious message to the Lions in Manila (after the ultra-defensive, unentertaining 0-0 draw to Philippines in the opening Suzuki Cup tournament): Wake up from your sloppy slumber and deliver.
Or risk losing the respect of the die-hard fans, who support without singularly thinking of the dollars and cents.
One thing that must never stop flowing must the “blood, sweat and tears” of the real Lions of the 1970s and 80s because they knew the meaning of the five-letter word: Pride. Not Kadir Yahaya’s five-letter word: Money.
Source: Suresh Nair