Kadir Yahaya has had enough of the exchange of words between the two camps tussling for votes at the upcoming Football Association of Singapore (FAS) election.
Within hours of the official call for election coming from the FAS’ Jalan Besar headquarters on Saturday morning, there were questions over the intentions of some running for office, with character and ability also called into question, and apologies soon demanded.
“Like it or not, there is a tsunami coming to Singapore football. It’s best to stop bickering and remain focused,” the former Singapore international told The New Paper.
Kadir, one of the most respected voices in local football, has spent ages thinking about the future of the sport here.
Long before Hougang United chairman Bill Ng announced his candidacy alongside his Tampines Rovers counterpart Krishna Ramachandra, and even before the FAS finalised its new constitution to allow for a democratic election of its leadership, he had already drawn up a list.
It was not a list of who can be president to lead football, but what a president has to do to drag the sport out of the doldrums.
Action plans and policy ideas have to be the focus of anyone aspiring to sit in the sport’s highest office, Kadir told TNP in November, and his stance has not changed, even as more names are being associated with either camp.
Sources reveal that Dr Dinesh Nair, chairperson of FAS’ medical committee, is in Lim Kia Tong’s camp along with officials from National Football League (NFL) clubs – Darwin Jalil (Eunos Crescent) and Albert Ng (Kembangan United).
Ng’s camp also includes NFL officials – Harman Ali (GFA) and Md Zaki (Kaki Bukit Sports Club) – along with Tampines vice chairman Chris Wong.
“I don’t have a preference yet, but whoever wins the election shouldn’t be slapping themselves on the back, because there is a huge task ahead.
“I hope the president is a hands-on man, maybe even one who takes football as a full time job and is able to make important decisions immediately,” said Kadir, 47.
He lists foresight, ambition, and straightforwardness as key attributes for the man who will helm the sport.
“We are at a critical juncture in our football, and if we don’t improve in the next five years, our realistic opponents will be the so-called minnows, countries like Bhutan, Mongolia and Timor Leste. We need a really solid plan,” said the man who led Singapore’s Under-15s to a bronze medal at the 2010 inaugural Youth Olympic Games.
“I hope he asks the hard questions – of where our football really is compared to our neighbours – and that football is his only agenda.
“If there are failures in the execution of his plans, he goes public with the facts and not sugar-coat things and hide,” he added.
“It is important that we analyse what went wrong, be transparent about it, identify what can be changed, then go again. I think the public will accept that approach, and appreciate it.”
Kadir wants an FAS leadership that understands the average Singapore fan, aims beyond the AFF Suzuki Cup and pulls out all the stops for young footballers to realise their dream.
“We are at a critical juncture in Singapore football. We are still just focused on the Suzuki Cup and South-east Asia Games. We need to aim higher, but our standards are dropping. There is a lot of work to be done,” said Kadir.
“This president can be a game changer, he’ll be the first one to be elected… and I hope we get the right man.”
KADIR’S 10-POINT WISHLIST
1. President must know the ground intimately.
2. Aim higher, look beyond the Suzuki Cup and SEA Games.
3. Inspire young footballers to dream.
4. Give recognition to icons.
5. Set up the National Training Centre.
6. Engage ex-internationals to train youngsters.
7. Engage amateur footballers through tournaments and even those who play five-a-side football.
8. Find able successors quickly
9. Find foreigner talent who can help Singapore.
10. Name a recognised football figure as a spokesperson.