Rising to the Roar in Women's Football
Opening Remarks By Mr Edwin Tong, Minister For Culture, Community And Youth, And Second Minister For Law, At The Women’s Premier League Launch And Sponsorship Ceremony
05 May 2022
Mr Lim Kia Tong, President, Football Association of Singapore
Mr Philip Yuen, CEO, Deloitte South-East Asia & Chairman, Deloitte Singapore
Ladies and Gentlemen
- Good afternoon. It is my pleasure to join all of you to commemorate the launch of the 2022 season of the Women’s Premier League (WPL).
- Let me start by offering my heartfelt thanks to Philip, Deloitte South-East Asia, and Deloitte Singapore, for your partnership with the Football Association of Singapore.
- Deloitte’s role in the sporting industry and the sporting ecosystem in Singapore is not new. You’ve been a tremendous partner for us in Singapore and I look forward to many other contributions.
- This initiative and generosity are much appreciated, and I think I speak for all when I say this.
- For over 20 seasons, the WPL has been the platform for women’s football players’ development in Singapore.
- It is my great pleasure to share today, that Deloitte will be the WPL’s first ever title sponsor.
White paper on Women’s development
- The WPL is reflective of the big strides towards the development of Singaporean women not only in the sporting field but certainly in other areas as well
- As many of you know in Parliament, earlier this year in April, we passed the White Paper on Singapore Women’s Development, which aims to look at holistically how we uplift national gender equality. And that is not just an effort that is just by women for women.
- The men have as much as a role in this and I think that it is important for us to remember that all of us in this room have an equal stake in ensuring that we have gender equality in Singapore.
- This is part of the Government’s efforts in building a fairer and more inclusive society.
Progress of Women’s Football in Singapore
- The WPL represents how sports can propel progress and encourage active participation by women in sport. Women challenging the stereotypes that hold us back. We want to also promote women’s empowerment, leadership, and help in other areas to develop a sense of identity and achievement by pursuing new opportunities.
- I think we are on the cusp of something tremendous for women’s football. And I will just cite a few examples and touch points that indicate this to me.
- First, our trailblazers and pioneers have been brightening up, luminating the path for many of the other talented football players we have, competing in the WPL today.
- In fact, not just in the WPL, but certainly in the younger ecosystem, through schools, and clubs, and academies. Let me share some exemplary Lionesses.
- You all know, Siti Rosnani Azman. I always tell the story of how I met her in Tokyo. She goes by Nani. She is the first Singapore woman to play professionally in Japan’s Women Empowerment League, which is the top and the first fully professional women’s football league in the country.
- We have Putri Nur Syaliza and Danelle Tan who are not just two of our most promising young female football players, but they are also our two youngest-ever goal scorers for the national senior team at the age of 14 years! They are the first Singapore female players to be studying overseas on scholarships and pursuing their football dreams at the same team. I think these people have really shown the power of possibility.
- Each of the talented footballers competing in the league represent a woman who has worked hard to develop her interest, passion, and talent in football, and have taken steps, perhaps a little bit off the beaten path and out of their comfort zone to pursue that.
Growth over the years and a wider base of women footballers
- For 2022, seven professional women’s football clubs will be competing in the WPL. As the WPL continue to flourish at the elite level, public interest and opportunities for growth, participation and competition continue to grow at the grassroots level as well.
- Football is now offered to girls as a co-curricular activity in many schools and tertiary institutions; and if you look at this year’s National School Games as a yardstick, you will find 25 football teams competing in the NSGs this year. This does not include the many who are in polytechnics, universities and Institutes of Technical education.
- As part of Unleash the Roar! or UTR, there are also plans to establish football academies dedicated for girls, offering a high level of football training coaching, development, and a whole all-rounded approach to how we develop a player, including rest, nutrition, diet and sports science. These are all very positive developments that will help us nurture many more successful Lionesses.
- And it really makes me think, as I said just now, that we are really on the cusp of something special for women’s football.
- That is why I am so happy that our Lionesses will, in a few days’ time, leave for the SEA Games for the first time since 2003. Almost 20 years ago. Their first game is on the 10th of May against Thailand.
- I'm also very happy that the same team will be able to compete later this year at the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games, another milestone. They will make their debut at the Asian Games later this year in September.
- I am very confident that these well-deserved opportunities will offer them the exposure and experience that they need to really cement the progress that they made so far and to excel further in the sport.
- Let us support, applaud, and cheer on our Lionesses as they mount their 2022 Major Games campaign and beyond. Their efforts will certainly inspire many Singaporean girls and women, and indeed all Singaporeans to step up and be part of the sport.
Rallying call for corporates and private sector
- I would like to take this opportunity to urge more companies, organisations, and individuals to contribute to sports, through avenues such as the One Team Singapore Fund.
- You heard in Parliament earlier this year duringthe budget that we talked about the fund; and Deloitte has been actively contributing to this fund. Donations to this fund are matched by the Government and are channelled exclusively to supporting the development of our national athletes.
- It is very encouraging that corporates, like Deloitte, have committed to support the High-Performance Sports ecosystem.
- Deloitte’s contribution will play a role in uplifting the standard of women’s football in Singapore, and also complement the Government’s commitment in devoting resources towards quality broad-based programmes and infrastructure such as sports stadiums.
- In closing, I wish the WPL a successful, rewarding journey ahead. I think this will be a very special season. So once again, congratulations.
- Please allow me to also wish all Muslim attendees and competitors Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Fitri.
- Let us continue working together to inspire the Singapore Spirit through sport, and Rise to the Roar!
- I wish everyone an enjoyable day ahead.
Last updated on 13 May 2022