Players, coaches delighted after SPL football clubs allowed to resume full training

The local football fraternity is hoping that the Singapore Premier League can resume soon.

Phoon Jia Hui

Published: 1 September 2020, 6:26 PM

Local football may be returning soon. The Singapore Premier League (SPL) teams were given the green light by the Multi-Ministry Taskforce managing COVID-19 to resume full training from Tuesday (Sep 1).

The SPL had been suspended from Mar 24 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Clubs were also forced to stop full training. When Phase Two kicked in, they were only allowed to train in groups of five.

“This is a significant step towards having our clubs resuming football as per normal in this year’s SPL season,” said the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) in a statement on Monday (Aug 31).

FAS added that they are working with the relevant ministries and stakeholders on setting a tentative resumption date in September for the SPL season.

While Tampines Rovers head coach Gavin Lee welcomed the return to training, he also urged caution.

“I’m very excited to hear about the news and it’s definitely a breath of fresh air [to be able to return to full training],” the 29-year-old told Youth.SG. “From a coach’s perspective, there is only so much we can do when we train in groups of five. For example, we could only work on their players’ individual fitness and technique over the past few months.

“Now that we are allowed to train together as a team, our priority is to work on our tactics and get the players to come together again.”

“At the same time, we have to be really careful as we are not out of the woods yet in terms of the crisis. We cannot afford to be complacent and have to continue to maintain the safety measures and protocols in place.”


Gavin is looking forward to work with his entire team at Tampines Rovers. PHOTO CREDIT: TAMPINES ROVERS FOOTBALL CLUB


Lee’s sentiments were shared by others in the football fraternity too.

Lion City Sailors’ full-back Ho Wai Loon was glad that training in small groups is finally over.

“I believe this can be considered a positive sign and a huge step towards the resumption of the SPL as well,” said the 27-year-old.

“As a fully-fit player, I’m relieved considering that it’s been six months since our last SPL match in March. Football being a team sport, it also felt really weird training in small groups because apart from no mingling between groups, you were only limited to certain drills. Additionally, there was no way one could work on game situations that we are usually used to.

“With the news, I’m excited to be able to see everyone back in together training as a full team again and it will definitely do our morale a world of good.”

Balestier Khalsa striker Hazzuwan Halim said he was pretty excited to get back into full training. He added that training in small groups was “boring” and he wasn’t used to it.

“It’s been a really long time since we trained collectively and like myself, I’m sure the other players in the team felt the same way when they got to know about the news,” said the 26-year-old.

While training has resumed, friendly matches are not yet permitted. The FAS noted in its statement that a key priority will be to “allow an adequate period for players to be conditioned and prepared for competitive matches”.


Hazzuwan has been looking forward to full training for quite some time. PHOTO CREDIT: BALESTIER KHALSA FOOTBALL CLUB


For Gavin, however, it is all about making do with the current situation.

“As much as we would like to play friendly matches against other teams to build up our match fitness, we have to adhere to the protocols. The next best thing we can do from tomorrow is to simply play sparring matches amongst ourselves,” said the youngest head coach in the SPL.

Hazzuwan added: “It’s a step closer to returning to competitive football, so we are really happy. As footballers, we love to play the real game and this is definitely something we are looking forward to.”

Mr Edwin Tong, the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and Second Minister for Law, also stated in a Facebook post that he is glad that the Singapore Premier League (SPL) clubs have been given the green light to resume full training sessions.

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