Previous FAS Councils not inclusive in decision-making: Razali

Previous FAS Councils not inclusive in decision-making: Razali
Former national captain Razali Saad has signed up with Team LKT as their candidate for one of the four vice-president posts on the FAS council. Photo: Noah Tan
He only agreed to join Team LKT to contest in the upcoming FAS polls following assurances that things would be different
Published: 4:00 AM, April 7, 2017

SINGAPORE — He was a member of the previous Football Association of Singapore (FAS) council, and was also part of the FAS committees in charge of Workplace Safety and the World Cup U-17 bid.

But former national captain Razali Saad has revealed to TODAY that despite being on the council, he and other members were seldom consulted for their views on important matters pertaining to the FAS.

Describing how the previous council, led by then-president Zainudin Nordin, operated, Razali told TODAY: “To be honest, there wasn’t a lot of engagement then.

“Important decisions on football were made without much discussions or engagement with the entire council.

“I’m also a board member of Sport Singapore (SportSG), and over there, we will all sit down and discuss matters and issues thoroughly before any decisions, major or minor, are made.

“So I was shocked when I went to the FAS and found that there was no such thing. A policy would be drawn up (without any prior discussions) and that was it. Everybody would have to agree to it.”

That was also the reason why when he was approached by Lim Kia Tong to join Team LKT in contesting the upcoming FAS elections on April 29, the former Lions defender told Lim that he would only do so if the team believed in being inclusive in its decision-making, and would be open-minded towards differing views.

After receiving assurances from Lim that this would be the case, Razali had no hesitation in signing up with Team LKT as their candidate for one of the four vice-president posts on the council.

“It seems that the FAS was worried about ex-internationals getting too deeply involved in local football matters and issues, because we can be quite opinionated,” explained Razali.

“We gave them our honest opinions about football, and maybe because some of them could not take it, so our views were not taken seriously.

“But Kia Tong has promised that this culture (of not being inclusive) is something that he will change. If not, I told him there wouldn’t be any point in me being there. I believe everyone has an important role to play, and we can all contribute in a meaningful way, and I felt heartened that Kia Tong agreed with me.”

Indeed, this message of inclusiveness was something that Lim took pains to emphasise during a press conference last Friday where he officially unveiled Team LKT’s members and manifesto.

Said Lim then: “The previous FAS president (Zainudin) had his plan and also his leadership style. I will have a very different leadership style.

“I will work with my team in a consultative way: I will take advice and input, and we will make decisions jointly ... but as president, the buck will stop with me.

“From the manifesto and the subsequent way we will run the FAS, it will be very, very different.”

From now till April 29 though, Razali and Team LKT will have to convince the 44 FAS affiliates — comprising nine S.League teams, 23 National Football League (NFL) clubs, and 12 others — to vote them into office at the milestone election.

The elections will be held at the SportSG (Black Box) Auditorium at the Singapore Sports Hub.

Team LKT will be up against Team Game Changers, led by Hougang United chairman and businessman Bill Ng.

If elected, Razali says one of his main aims will be to come up with a feasible footballing career path for young players.

“My main concern will be to help the players,” said the father of three, who is the general manager at The Arena, a football thematic sports complex at Woodleigh Park.

“I was a player before, so I know how it is like to go through the ropes.

“Right now, there’s a large drop-out rate in football at a youth level, and that makes me sad. There are many of them who are talented and want to go forward, but we don’t have the pathways for them to reach the next phase of football.

“Then when you talk about professional players having 10- or 11-month contracts, that’s just not good enough to attract people to want to take up football as a career. So this is one of the issues I’ll be looking at resolving if our team is elected.

“I know there are so many areas where we can improve on. It’s not going to be easy and will require hard work.

“But at the end of the day, I’m a football man, and my duty is to serve Singapore football and make it better.”