'We started the S.league in 1996 and have gone a good 17 years, but clubs are still dependent on subsidies,' - Former national coach Vincent Subramaniam

The last local to coach the Singapore national team 14-years ago, shared his thoughts with Goal.com Chief Editor Bhas Kunju on the past, present and future of local football
By Bhas Kunju

In Part 2 of our interview with Vincent Subramaniam, the former Singapore national coach talks about his affinity for Singapore football and if there are plans to return to these shores.

"Yes, I follow the football scene in Singapore, it’s close to my heart," said Vincent. "My eldest son Thenan is on Facebook and twitter so he keeps me informed about the gossips."

Having last been with Home United before leaving for South Asia, the former Singapore Armed Forces FC (SAFFC) coach reflected on the state of local football.

"We started the S.league in 1996 and have gone a good 17 years, but clubs are still dependent on subsidies," he lamented.*

"FAS must be complimented for their efforts to secure funds to help club sustain their participation. Those who kept going, the likes of Patrick Ang, Thavaneson, Teo Hock Seng, John Yap, they are incredible."

Vincent having had a hand in youth development also touched on how relative to other Asian footballing giants, local football players were still not quite up to the mark yet

"'Any one player who has caught my eye', again who are we comparing with?" was his reply when asked if any player had stood out for him.

"I might think he or she is the best but compared to Japan and Korea he or she is ordinary. Frankly, how are we to see fruits when we have not sown the seeds?

"The fundamental must be right. There are no secrets, and there are many proven plans, programs and modules. FIFA/AFC is ready to assist. We need to have patience, be flexible and tailor it to our needs and requirements. Work the plan. Talented players need talented coaches, got to invest in both. The program of developing players and coaches needs to be fair, honest and transparent."

The importance of placing emphasis on younger players was also raised by Vincent, adding: "Invest in youth development program, that’s where our future lies. The job of the national coach is totally different from that of the Youth Director."

"He is seeing the present but we need a youth director to chart our future. The right person is very important, we should not allow sentiments, friends, convenience, and influence to interfere with decisions."

Now, based in India, where he enjoys Person of Indian Origin (PIO) status, the 57-year-old also let on that a return to Singapore is something that he does think about,

"Yes, the thought of returning to one day coach a team in the S.league again is always on my mind but right now my heart and soul is on my new endeavour as TDO/RTD in the South Asia Region," said Vincent.

"I am proposing some new initiatives. I do not like doing the same things over and over again, it's not refreshing for anyone or any organisation."

Two years ago, Home United FC (HUFC) had made an official announcement that Vincent would return to the club as head coach, but that was quickly redacted and Korean Lee Lim Saeng was brought in instead. Speaking on that incident, he added: "HUFC offered the coaching position again recently but the matter did not materialise."

"The selection of players is strictly the Head Coach domain and not that of the team manager who is not a technical person."

Despite pledging his immediate future to aiding football development in South Asia, Vincent reiterated his loyalty to the Football Association of Singapore (FAS).

"I will always want to be of service to FAS in any way I can," he said.

"They too played a big part in my career development and I will always be grateful."

Read Part 1 here

*This interview was conducted prior to John Yap's announcement that Gombak United will be sitting out the S.League in 2013 due to financial constraints.