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Five outstanding South-east Asian clubs: Warriors FC

Five outstanding South-east Asian clubs: Warriors FC

FAS

By Khalis Rifhan

In football, success on and off the pitch is not only down to sheer talent and tactical genius, it requires years of meticulous planning.

So we, at Goal.com, will be selecting and presenting a statistical as well as structural evaluation of five top clubs in the South-east Asian region and would try to draw a verdict on why these teams are heads and shoulders above the rest. In this edition, we take a look at one of the most prestigious clubs in Singapore, Warriors FC.

CLUB HISTORY

Warriors FC, formerly known as Singapore Armed Forces FC (SAFFC), were born out of the Singapore Armed Forces Sports Association (SAFSA) football team when the S.League was launched in 1996.

That year, SAFSA pulled out from the National Football League (NFL), an amateur competition, to enable the formation of the SAFFC. However, in 1999, SAFSA resumed participation in the NFL competition, to allow more talented football players enlisted for National Service to continue playing regular football even though they did not make the cut to play in the professional league.

Warriors FC are the most successful club in Singapore, winning eight league titles, four Singapore Cups, two Charity Shields and an FA Cup title in 1997. Half of the club’s league titles were won under former coach Richard Bok from 2006-2009. During that period, the club also left their mark in regional competitions, representing Singapore in the AFC Champions League twice, in 2009 and 2010, and reaching the AFC Cup quarter-finals in 2007 and 2008.

On 13 April 2010, the Warriors made history when they registered their first win in the AFC Champions League, seeing off Chinese outfit Henan Construction 2-1 at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

The club is now coached by former Singapore national player, V.Selveraj, taking over from Bok whose contract was not renewed at the end of the 2012 season.

STADIUM

CHOA CHU KANG STADIUM
The stadium is part of the Choa Chu Kang Sports and Recreation complex located in Choa Chu Kang, Singapore. It was officially opened in 2011 and includes a 50m Olympic swimming pool, a running track, athletics facilities and a sports hall which supports indoor games. The main grandstand has a capacity of 4,000 people and is home to the Warriors FC. The ground is popularly known to its fans as ‘The Warriors' Arena’.

The stadium is operated by the Singapore Sports Council and it caters to the community's recreational needs. All of its facilities, indoor and outdoor, are accessible to the public. They include tennis courts, petanque sandpits, street soccer pitches, basketball and badminton courts, and a gym.

Speaking to Goal.com Singapore General Manager, Chong Wei Liang said: “Since I took over, we have built a good rapport with the Sports Council's centre managers but unfortunately, this year, management changed again. Nonetheless, I think the approach is still the same. Everybody is trying to do their part to make things happen."

“So I told them, 'I understand your constraints but we will work together and make the best out of the situation.' They have been very cooperative and understanding. The director of operations recently visited the stadium and we brainstormed ideas to make several improvements to enhance the overall experience for fans."

AFFILIATED CLUBS


Warriors FC is not affiliated to any overseas clubs but despite that, coach V. Selvaraj said that the club has not encountered any difficulties in engaging other South-east Asian teams for friendlies in lieu of its good working relations with the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) and the other FA's in the region.

YOUTH DEVELOPMENT


All S.League clubs have a youth development system in the form of the Prime League (Under-23), Under-18, Under-16 and Under-14 squad run by the FAS.

The club also has a 'KidzWarriors' programme targeted at children between the ages of seven to 11. Training is once a week at the Warriors' home ground.

In 2012, the club took development a step further when they announced a partnership with Asia Pacific School of Sports and Business (APSSB) in which, they established a full-time diploma course paired with a football training programme.

They have also recently started a football mentorship programme with Jurongville Secondary School, run by the club's youth coaches and Under-18 players.

Coach, V. Selvaraj told Goal.com Singapore: “I was in charge of the youth team as well as the Prime League team. They are part of our developmental structure in the club. They never set any targets for us, but instead they encouraged us to develop at least three to five players from one age group to another. For example, from the Under-16 to the Under-18 team.”

KEY PLAYERS

Mislav Karoglan Kazuyuki Toda Daniel Bennett
Karoglan was an instant hit with the fans. He scored 33 goals in his debut season and 14 goals in 2012, when the league dropped the three-round format to just two. Toda was a prominent member of the Japanese national set-up in the late 90s and early 2000s. He played for Shimizu S-Pulse before going on loan to EPL club Tottenham Hotspur in 2003. Ever-present in the Warriors' defence, Bennett is also the club's captain and will be leading the backline with Croatian Marin Vidosevic.  Bennett has been with the club since 2007.


MANAGEMENT

Eric Tan Huck Gim - Advisor
Tan boasts 32 years of distinguished service with the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). His wealth of experience in event organisation in the sports industry, coupled with his time in the SAF, the Club Advisor contributes significantly to the operations of the Warriors

V. Selvaraj - Head Coach
A former player with the club in its early S.League days, Selvaraj went on to coach the Warriors' youth team and eventually its Prime League team last season. The former Singapore international has been a coach at the club for seven years and was an assistant to ex-Head Coach Richard Bok last year. At the end of the 2012 season, he was appointed to the hot seat.

Speaking to Goal.com Singapore, Chong Wei Liang, the General Manager of Warriors FC said: “I have confidence in my coaching team, and with regards to improving the team, whether it is the S.League team or the youth squad, it has been our number one priority. With the introduction of Toda and Shi Jiayi (Singapore international), we are indeed very confident going into the 2013 season."

“The previous GM (Kok Wai Leong) has done a tremendous job and I am thinking of how am I going to bring the club to the next level. This is my new approach when dealing with sponsors. Normally, we ask, 'what can the sponsors do for us?', but now, the question is, 'how am I able to add value to your sponsorship?'

“We are taking a pro-active approach, to add more mileage to the agreement. Other than this, we are active with outreach programmes with the community and this is one area which we want to work on too. This is part of the branding of the club and I would love to see the Warriors as a club that belongs to the community, be it the resident, sponsor, schools, charity organisation and the sponsor.”

GOAL.COM VERDICT

With the financial might of the Ministry of Defence, the club has, in the past, been able to secure the signings of top local and foreign players. Despite that, the club ended the 2012 season at its lowest position, 6th. This year, they have brought in another Brigadier General as an advisor and will be moving towards more commercially viable operations, re-branding and also, sourcing for sponsors beyond the military set-up.

FINAL RATING

Stadium OVERALL
Facilities 3
Youth System
Club Affiliation
Key Players
Management


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