Zainudin: We must pull in other races

The Football Association of Singapore president acknowledges that Malays make up the bulk of the football industry, but wants other races to get involved as well
Singapore prides itself in being a multi-racial and multi-cultural society.  

However, despite almost three-quarters of the population being Chinese, it seems that football is synonymous with the Malay population.

In the latest 23-man national team selected for the friendly against Laos tonight and the crucial qualifier against Syria next week, only Madhu Mohana, Gabriel Quak and Qiu Li are non-Malay.

Speaking in a media interview with Mediacorp's Suria channel last week, Football Association of Singapore (FAS) president Zainudin Nordin gave his perspectives on the racial imbalance.

“Firstly, I’m proud of the Malay community for their talent in football to be successful,” he said.

“But if we want our nation to succeed, we need more talent regardless of race so that we can choose the best of the lot.

“We must give an opportunity to everyone and we must use the system of meritocracy to see who deserves it most. We must also find new ways to pull all races, not just any one [race]; even foreigners who become local should be considered."

Singapore has had its fair share of naturalised foreigners with the likes of Aleksandar Duric, Mustafic Fahrudin, Daniel Bennett, Shi Jiayi and Agu Casmir all donning the Singapore jersey in recent years.

However, local Chinese players come only few and far between, with Quak currently the only Singaporean Chinese player in the national squad. Qiu was born in China and only received his Singapore citizenship in 2008.

“From the ages of eight to 18, the involvement [of players] with different races is different,” Zainudin explained.

“When an individual reaches 17 or 18 years old, they will reach a crossroads in their life and they have to ask themselves: What should I do which is best for my future? It is a personal choice, one that is decided with the family members.”