News Singapore Premier League • March 31, 2018
Singapore Premier League Kicks Off with a Bang
Mdm Halimah Yacob, President of the Republic of Singapore, declared the new SPL open in front of over 18,000 fans at the Great Eastern Community Shield
SINGAPORE, 31 MARCH 2018 – A momentous occasion was marked on Saturday evening as the new Singapore Premier League (SPL) officially kicked off at the National Stadium, Singapore Sports Hub.
Albirex Niigata FC (S) beat Tampines Rovers FC 2-1 to lift the Great Eastern Community Shield, which served both as the curtain-raiser to the new season and the first ever SPL match.
The entertaining clash was played out in front of Mdm Halimah Yacob, President of the Republic of Singapore, as well as a crowd of 18,942, who witnessed history being made.
The match was the culmination of a series of activities that began as early as 1pm earlier in the day at the OCBC Square with the GREAT 110 Football Fiesta. There, fans and members of the public enjoyed themselves exploring the smorgasbord of interactive booths set up by eight SPL clubs, Great Eastern, Hyundai, four SPL partners and the Football Association of Singapore’s (FAS) Football Science and Medicine, Women’s and Referees’ Departments.
Kids also got their kicks on at the GREAT 110 Kids Football Tournament, while current SPL players and former Singapore football stars were on hand to mingle with fans.
Lucky fans who entered the stadium early not only redeemed a unique Golden Ticket as a collector’s item, but also were in time for a curtain-raiser match between the Singapore Legends team and a Great Eastern 110 side. Household names like Fandi Ahmad and Malek Awab rolled back the years against their opponents, proving that they still have got what it takes with a 4-0 win.
Albirex cheerleaders and West Spring Secondary percussion band also entertained the crowd in the lead-up to Mdm President’s arrival.
The arrival of Mdm President gave proceedings an added lustre and as she took to the stage, a grand parade featuring the nine SPL club flags and FAS flag strode on the pitch purposefully to signify unity and inclusiveness in the Singapore football fraternity.
“We are honoured to have Madam President with us to commemorate this historic day to mark the new beginnings of Singapore football in the National Stadium, where the S.League was inaugurated 22 years ago,” FAS President Mr Lim Kia Tong remarked in his speech.
Flanked by FAS Deputy President Mr Bernard Tan and Vice-Presidents Mr Edwin Tong, Mr Teo Hock Seng, Mr S. Thavaneson and Mr Razali Saad, as well as Great Eastern Group CEO Mr Khor Hock Seng, Great Eastern Managing Director, Group Marketing Mr Colin Chan and Sport Singapore Chairman Mr Richard Seow, Mr Lim added: “Everyone will play an important role in the success of the Singapore Premier League as we bring the community together to ignite the passion that fuels fans and players. We are starting afresh, taking a bold step forward into the future with a host of new developments.”
The moment that everyone had been waiting then took place as Mdm President said: “I declare the Singapore Premier League open”.
A spectacular launch sequence then ensued as fireworks and smoke effects went off, while a congratulatory video featuring messages from FIFA President Gianni Infantino, and Asian Football Confederation President, His Excellency, Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa was broadcast.
Mdm President was then invited for handshakes with the Albirex and Tampines teams before making her way to the VIP seating area to watch the match.
At the half-time break, a unique Golden Ticket bearing the serial number 001 – signifying the first ever SPL match ticket – was presented to Mdm President by FAS President Mr. Lim.
FAS President presents a Golden Ticket to Mdm President Halimah
On the pitch, nine donors to the Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund had the opportunity to face off against former Singapore goalkeepers Lionel Lewis and Shahri Rahim in a half-time penalty shootout.
Upon the match’s conclusion, Mdm President was invited to witness GE CEO Mr. Khor hand over a cheque for $169,085 to Mr Gerard Ee, a member of the Straits Times (ST) School Pocket Money Fund’s Board of Trustees, and Chairman of the Charity Council as funds raised for the ST School Pocket Money Fund.
Thereafter, the Community Shield was jointly presented by Mdm President, FAS Vice-President Mr. Tong and Mr. Khor to Albirex captain Wataru Murofushi, who raised it in triumph amid a shower of confetti.
That brought the curtain down on a landmark day and Mr Lim hopes it will serve as a platform to be built upon, moving forward.
“Together, we will raise the standards of Singapore football,” he said. “We will see the birth of new football stars alongside the experienced campaigners and household names who have endeared themselves to fans.
“So thank you all, especially our fans, for joining us to kick off the Singapore Premier League. We will build on and continue the excitement from today throughout the 2018 SPL season and the many more seasons to come.”
More: Match Report | Match Preview