News • January 29, 2016

Celebrating 13 years Of White Swans’ Contributions To Singapore Football


Written By: Alex Weaver

The Embassy of Japan (Japan Creative Centre) on Nassim Road, Singapore was the setting for a fascinating talk on the impact of Japanese football within Singapore on Thursday evening.

Anyone on the island who possesses just the slightest interest in football will be only too familiar with football clubs such as Gamba Osaka, Urawa Reds and Yokohama F. Marinos, while pictures of players such as Junichi Inamoto, Keisuke Honda and Shinji Kagawa are instantly recognisable.

Those with a little more interest in the Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League will of course be familiar with Albirex Niigata (S) and players like Kenji Arai, Kazayuki Toda, Tatsuro Inui, and prolific goalscorer, Kazuki Sakamoto.

On top of those names, last year’s S.League Player of the Year Fumiya Kogure was recently signed by Hougang United, while players that have gone on to develop their careers overseas include Arata Izumi (East Bengal, Pune, Indian National Team) and Taisuke Akiyoshi (Sturm Graz).

However, very few are aware of the work being done away from the field by the White Swans for the past 13 years.

In order to celebrate 50 years of Singapore-Japanese relations, the SJ50 Football Talk aimed to improve upon that knowledge.

Supported by speeches from Football Association of Singapore president Zainudin Nordin and Albirex Niigata FC (S) general manager Koh Mui Tee, the full range of Albirex’s contribution to Singapore football was outlined impeccably.

The first of three speeches on the night however, was delivered by Daisuke Korenaga, the chairman of Albirex Niigata (S) and he gave an informative yet entertaining presentation.

“I love Singapore and I love Singaporeans”, Korenaga said to open his speech and continued to present facts and figures about the Japanese club’s history in Singapore.

The White Swans were also awarded the People’s Association Community Award in 2015 after raising $56,000 through the club’s extensive Yuhua Albirex Football Academy (YAFA) and given to Singapore charities, something that Korenaga is very proud of.

“We have many activities aimed at helping the community and mixing the Japanese culture with Singaporean culture is something we love doing. YAFA has 347 children involved in soccer and 316 doing cheerleading,” he explained.

Zainudin then took the microphone and talked about the good relations between FAS and the Japanese Football Association (JFA), and presented information regarding the MOU signed in 2011 between the FAS and JFA.

Coaching placements, education courses, players training and match initiatives are all part of the deal. Several Japanese coaches have even already worked and/or are currently working within the Singapore youth system.

“Over the past few years with the partnership we have with the JFA and since I have been President of the FAS, I have made a lot of friends at the JFA,” stated Zainudin as he addressed the audience.

“Following the 2011 MOU we decided that much more can be done but we also want substance from what we want to do together.”

Later on, Zainudin also acknowledged the level of quality Albirex has brought to Singapore football, citing fitness levels, playing philosophies and reminded everyone of the 2013 MOU signed with the J-League itself.