An Inside look at Singapore Football with Hassan Sunny, Ernie Sulastri, Izzati Rosni and Glenn Kweh

How has the support for Singapore football changed over the past two decades? Follow our exclusive interview with national footballers from the men's and women's teams

PHOTO: HANA BASIR, SPORTPLUS.SG


The clock ticked down in the final minute of the Lionesses' match against Laos in the 2022 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, and Izzati Rosni found herself in possession of the ball.


"I was like: What should I do with the ball? And I didn't think of anything else but just to take a shot," said the 22- year-old, recounting the moment.

"I didn't know that would be my final kick of the match and then when I saw the ball go in, I was just shocked."


Izzati made history with that single goal, helping the Lionesses claim their first SEA Games win since 1985.

PHOTO: HANA BASIR, SPORTPLUS.SG


Alongside Izzati in the interview with SportPlus.sg was her teammate, Ernie Sulastri, who added, "It's not only our first SEA games, it is also our first international win as a team). Which is why everyone was just so happy and just jumped on [Izzati]."


The female duo were joined in the interview by Hassan Sunny and Glenn Kweh of the men's national team, as they discussed their journeys towards achieving the success they have had in their careers.

PHOTO: HANA BASIR, SPORTPLUS.SG


While representing Singapore in international competitions has undoubtedly been a privilege, it has also meant being away from home often for multiple weeks at a time.


In response to a question of the sacrifices he must make as an athlete, Hassan immediately replied, "Being away from the family—that's the number one sacrifice."

PHOTO: HANA BASIR, SPORTPLUS.SG


Yet, despite their extended periods away from home, the players cited their families as the biggest sources of support in their careers.


Recalling his developmental years, Glenn said, "I always say I owe all my success to my dad. I wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for him."

PHOTO: HANA BASIR, SPORTPLUS.SG


To Glenn, it was how his father would always be there on school days that ended late to fetch him so he would be on time for trainings.


"I feel that's played a very important role in making me the player I am today," he added.


For Ernie, her parents have been ardent supporters of her career every step of the way since she first picked up the sport aged five.

PHOTO: HANA BASIR, SPORTPLUS.SG


"They watch all my matches, even when I'm overseas they still watch live. They will text me: good luck for your matches." said Ernie.


As the players have progressed in their careers, so too has the football scene in Singapore.

"I think overall we've seen a major improvement in terms of media coverage of all levels of football in Singapore," noted Hassan.


Ernie echoed similar sentiments with regards to the Women’s Premier League, noting that all the matches are broadcasted now compared to the past.

PHOTO: HANA BASIR, SPORTPLUS.SG


She attributed the improvements to Ms Julie Teo, general manager of grassroots & women's football and volunteer management, and Mr James Walton from Deloitte Singapore, sponsors of the league.


"Now we experience more how a professional player plays in a league," said Ernie.


Youth development on the men’s side has also been improved with the establishment of the National Football Academy in 2000. Glenn benefitted from being a part of the NFA, particularly from the opportunities it gave him to play on an international stage from a young age.

PHOTO: HANA BASIR, SPORTPLUS.SG


"It gives you more exposure and allows you to play at a higher level, because you're playing against stronger teams such as Australia, Indonesia and many more," said Glenn.


Looking forward, Ernie voiced her hopes for female footballers to have increased chances to gain international exposure. She also called for greater inclusivity in sports as a whole. "Maybe we can focus on people with all kinds of disabilities—to step up and play sports, like all different kinds of sports, not just football.


Hassan, greatly encouraged by increasing attention on local football due to broadcasting efforts, hopes the upward trajectory will continue.


Especially in the light of relaxed safe management measures, Hassan said," And of course, now what I wish is to have more people in the stadiums, to fill up to capacity."


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