The participants were out early at Jalan Besar Stadium on Saturday morning, each bringing their A-game to the pitch. It was the first day of the Singapore Football Festival, and the event kicked off with a full futsal tournament, as well as a special challenge designed by ActiveSG Football Academy’s head coaches – both with attractive prizes up for grabs.
Participants of the Singapore United Football Fiesta battling it out on the pitch. Photo: Sport Singapore
Different teams battled it out in the second edition of the Singapore United Football Fiesta, while football enthusiasts from all walks of life took part in the Singapore Football Festival Skills Challenge, doing their best to outdo each other and secure their spot on the leaderboard.
As the football fans pitted their skills against each other, a larger objective was also being achieved – getting the community out to play with each other, regardless of ethnicity, age, and gender.
Acting Principal of the ActiveSG Football Academy Lim Tong Hai, shared: “Football is all-encompassing. It’s for us to get together and interact. There’s no barrier, and football is the common language.”
Acting Principal of the ActiveSG Football Academy Lim Tong Hai. Photo: Sport Singapore
Shehzad Haque, founder of Singapore United, added: “We want to celebrate diversity in Singapore because we are one of the most multi-cultural countries around. The best way to do that, I feel, is through sport. And everyone loves football! It’s the World Cup season too, so the mood is there, and everyone’s really excited.”
The Fiesta, which was a full tournament that ran throughout the day, featured multi-ethnic corporate teams, youth teams, and teams comprising of foreigners residing in Singapore, such as an all-Mongolian one.
“This is the second year that we’re having this tournament. This year, it’s done on a much bigger scale, thanks to SportSG, who let us use this arena, making this a better event,” explained Haque, who added that Singapore United had also received logistical, funding, and manpower support from SportSG as part of the Active Enabler Programme.
“It’s a great venue that we have here today – so much bigger that last year! We can meet different people from different companies and get to know each other,” Sufi Harun, a member of the DHL Express team, said.
Sufi Harun, a member of the DHL Express team, and his teammate Sascha Schuemann from Germany. Photo: Sport Singapore
His teammate Sascha Schuemann, who hails from Germany, concurred: “Coming together, we break down all the barriers – different cultures, different languages. It’s nice to be playing against and with Chinese, Malays, Indians, Caucasians… Everyone’s here and all that matters is the football game, and having fun!
As for the Skills Challenge, participants are tested on four different basic football skills: dribbling, passing, juggling, and shooting, with an open and junior category for each skill. At the end of the challenge on 5 August, scores will be recorded on a leaderboard and the top-performing participants will win prizes.
“The Skills Challenge is meant to get the public to pit their football skills against each other. It’s also a good time for you to see how you can actually perform. These may be basic skills in football, but eventually, you’ll be able to see that they’re important, and appreciate the skills required in football,” Lim remarked.
He continued: “Of course, this also gives the public more playing opportunities – sometimes people just want to get together kick a ball! With this, they can lead a healthier lifestyle. You don’t have to be an expert!”
The Skills Challenge will be available at football fields and stadiums around the island this month, and Lim also revealed that there were plans to set it up during various outreach programmes.
As panna player Kaellan Arshad, who had participated with fellow freestyle footballer Damien Lam, noted: “This will encourage Singaporeans to come down and enjoy themselves, and have fun with their teammates and friends!”
SportSG ambassador and Arion Football Academy striker Chris Yip-Au trying out the dribbling station as part of the Singapore Football Festival Skills Challenge. Photo: Sport Singapore
Indeed, beyond just testing her skills on the pitch, Arion Football Academy striker Chris Yip-Au agreed that this was a good opportunity for people to play and bond as one. She expressed: “When you’re on the field, there’s no social status. Everybody is there as players. The only thing that matters is your position on the field – left wing, right wing, goalkeeper, and all. And these positions are all equally important!”
The Singapore Football Festival runs till 30 July, so head down to the event’s main page for additional information on how you can be a part of the Skills Challenge and more!
Embracing our nation’s love for football, Sport Singapore continues to facilitate our football community to celebrate the sport in the second edition of the Singapore Football Festival in June and July this year.
Coinciding with the 2018 FIFA World Cup, International Champions Cup (ICC), Singapore Premier League (SP and the Singapore National Games (SNG), this year’s festivities aim to inspire our people to learn, watch and play various forms of football organised by ActiveSG, Football Association of Singapore (FAS), as well as operators, clubs and fans from the local football community.
Visit http://www.footballfest.sg for more details! #SGFootballFest