Arsenal Fans SG started out as a social outfit in 2016. An unofficial Arsenal fan group whereby supporters of the club here in Singapore could get together and play a game of football and have a chat about their beloved club.
However while most unofficial social football fan club groups tend to die out after a while, this group has gone from strength to strength since founded in 2016 and that’s thanks to their captain/manager Mr Raymond.
Mr Raymond is not just a passionate Arsenal fan but he is also someone who wants to see Arsenal Fans SG outfit grow and has high aspirations for this group, yet it can be said that he accidentally found himself in this role.
It all happened after there were internal disagreements within the group which led to the departure of the original founders of the group. It was from there that Mr Raymond from being a member, took over the group and aided by his close friend Dom, a British expat who is part of the set-up, set about growing the group.
For Mr Raymond, he believed that organising one-off friendly matches for the team wasn’t just enough to keep the Arsenal Fans SG afloat. And so what he did was to make drastic changes to the way Arsenal Fans SG operates although at the initial stages this had its own set of challenges.
After taking over from the original founders, Mr Raymond had the vision of wanting to turn this into an amateur sports team which could join a football league. And like any dream, it had its obstacles.
Firstly, the group was saddled with an inordinate amount of members. This created a massive headache for him as he did not know who to pick when they organised games. Also, every time the team suffered a defeat, Mr Raymond would find people leaving the team.
Compounding matters was when he saw how certain members would leave the team, when the going got tough but would return when they were doing well.
Believing a huge overhaul was needed, Mr Raymond aided by Dom decided to start by axing members who weren’t contributing anything positive to the group. Significantly this move was crucial as it helped weed out lots of negativity.
From there on they decided to introduce a new kit for the team, as they felt playing with the Arsenal jersey and having the Arsenal logo on was too much. Fortunately for them, their team is not just filled with footballers but also those who have other talents.
One such member named Fathin created a jersey specifically for Arsenal Fans SG and that helped to build camaraderie within the team. Also, they started to make use of social media and have created their own social media platforms which were then used to recruit new members who want to play football and share the love of Arsenal.
Now with the necessary tweaks being made, Mr Raymond could see the improvement of his team. With a strong base of unity, the team started to also see results on the pitch every time a match was organised.
From losing heavily, there were now a healthy mixture of results including draws, losses and wins. Mr Raymond now knew better the strength and weaknesses of his team. Moreover their recruitment saw Arsenal Fans SG have a good mix of age groups, from players in their early 20s to 30s.
Not one to rest on his laurels, Mr Raymond has also begun taking coaching courses with private football academies. Yet when asked what his advice was in trying to run such a team like Arsenal Fans SG, he said this.
“Be patient and open-minded. More importantly don’t take criticism to heart.”
He can now savour the fruits of his labour as he is close of turning Arsenal Fans SG into an amateur sports team, with the group looking to enter the league in late October this year.
Although there will still be obstacles such as funding, Mr Raymond is confident the team can still grow as team members tend to donate footballing equipment. Additionally members also contribute a small amount to Arsenal Fans SG that go a long way in helping to cover additional costs.
Of course they are also open to collaboration with the official Arsenal fan group in Singapore as they look to be involved in areas not just football but also charity.
All in all, Arsenal Fans SG’s story is a showcase of how passion for the beautiful game brings people together and allows them to learn from one another. Football is blind to creed, religion and colour and Arsenal Fans SG encapsulate this.Photo credits: Khaippeas photographer and Fathin designer