Tag Archives: Lee Bee Wah

Newsbreak: Isabelle Li reaches YOG table tennis girls singles final

The report:

Singapore’s Isabelle Li has reached the final of the girls’ singles competition. She was in awesome form today. I watched her on television and could not help marvelling at the way she patiently picked Thailand’s Susathini Sawettabut apart.

This will be such a huge boost to young local aspiring paddlers who dream of playing for Singapore one day.

Isabelle still has the final to play for tonight. She will face either China’s Gu Yuting or South Korea’s Yang Han Eun.

But no matter what the outcome tonight, she is already a heroine in many people’s eyes.

Well done, Isabelle! Singapore boleh, local talent boleh!!

Below is the report on Isabelle’s match which I found on The Straits Times’ website

Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan


Isabelle storms into final
(The Straits Times Online, 23 Aug 2010)
By Gerard Wong
National paddler Isabelle Li has guaranteed herself and Singapore a silver medal in the Youth Olympic Games table tennis competition at the very least after she reached the final of the girls’ singles competition this morning.
The 15-year-old Singapore Sports School student was in superb form as she blitzed past Thailand’s Suthasini Sawettabut 4-0 in the semi-finals at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
Watched on by International Olympic Committee president Jacque Rogge and Singapore Table Tennis Association president Lee Bee Wah, and cheered on by a vocal and boisterous partisan crowd, Isabelle Lee put in a calm and measured performance against Suthasini whom she had defeated 4-1 in the South-east Asian Junior Championships final earlier this year.
Suthasini looked a pale shadow of the girl who had conquered Japan’s Ayuki Tanioka 4-0 in the quarter-finals. Ayuki had defeated Isabelle in the preliminary rounds and as such, Suthasini should have gained a lot of confidence from her triumph.
Iinstead, she had a constant look of trepidation this morning and her furrowed brow continued to deepen as she went down 9-11 and then 6-11 in the first two sets.
Isabelle, on the other hand, maintained that solid defensive chopping display that enabled her to prevail over Romania’s Bernadette Soczs in the quarter-finals, returning everything that Suthasini threw at her.
She continued to hassle and harry Suthasini into making mistakes or hasty attempts at kills in the third set and finally won that 11-6.
In the fourth set, Suthasini started to put up a more spirited display. She led 3-1 but then the decider lurched from 4-4 to 6-6 before Isabelle finally started pulling ahead as the crowds chanted “Isabelle, jia you!”.
She led 9-7 and 10-9 and finally sealed the 11-9 win when Suthasini smashed into the net.
Isabelle, who competed in more than 20 tournaments around the world in the space of six months this year in preparation for the YOG, will face either China’s Gu Yuting or South Korea’s Yang Han Eun in this evening’s final.
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Local football fans blast FAS for selecting Etoile FC and Beijing Guo’an

The reports:

I’ve found two very well-argued opinion pieces about the Football Association of Singapore’s inclusion of the two new foreign clubs – Etoile FC and Beijing Guo’an – into this season’s S-League.

One, from The Online Citizen, protested vehemently against the exclusion of the Yishun Super Reds while the other, a letter in TODAY, lambasted the FAS for constantly changing the foreign teams in the league:

“While bringing in foreign talent may work for table tennis, having foreign-based teams play here for one or two seasons before they wave goodbye is not the way to go. How are we to breed local talent if half the league consists of itinerant foreigners?”

Reading the write-up from the TOC also got me thinking: Yes, it seems that in rejecting the Yishun Spuer Reds, the FAS may well have missed the opportunity to create a new version of Sembawang Rangers.

I have fond memories of Sembawang – although they were always in the bottom half of the league, they were memorable because they were unconventional.

They were the first club to go almost all Thai in their selection of four or five foreign players. And we all knew the Thai players from their exploits for Thailand in the Tiger Cup in the late 90s and early Noughties (now known as the Asean Football Championships).

Coached by Voran Chintavanich (now with Tampines Rovers), that Sembawang side featured the likes of defender Niweat Siriwong, midfielder Thawatchai Ongtrakul and the biggest catch of all, midfielder Tawan Sripan, who back then was arugably the second most popular player in Thailand after Kiatisuk Senamuang.

Their brand of attacking football drew the crowds – not just Thai nationals working in Singapore but also local football fans. And my most enduring memory of the crowds was how a group of fans would always gather around the team after a match, listening to Vorawan debriefinig his men before breaking out in cheers and giving all of them a standing ovation.

This is the sort of fanship money can never buy. And from the looks of it, there was a chance that the Yishun All Reds could have become a Korean version of Sembawang Rangers, becoming a magnet for Korean nationals working in Singapore, and once again, a club for the neighbourhood to identify with.

Sadly, they will not be getting their chance to build on that platform this year. Instead, it looks like the FAS has been blinded by promises of European flair (yucks, so snooty, as though Asian players are not capable of flair) and the potential to recruit young China players for future national teams (double yucks)

Here are the two write-ups. Like I said, very good. I devoured every word and re-read them a couple of times. I hope you will enjoy them too.

Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan


Latest fiasco from Football Association of Singapore

(The Online Citizen, 19 Jan 2010)

By Lim Mingji

Two weeks from the start of the 15th season of the Great Eastern-Yeo’s S-League, the S-League announced the winner of the two teams that were competing for the final spot in the new S-league season.

To the surprise and amazement of all the S-league fans, the winner of the coveted final spot went to Beijing Guo’an, rather than the highly committed and motivated, successful in previous two seasons, and now going all local, Yishun Super Reds.

Super Reds FC (Korea), is the most successful foreign team ever to grace the S-league. Barring their first season when they finished bottom, they have been pretty successful for the last 2 seasons, finishing 2nd in 2008 and 5th in 2009 (ahead of 8th placed Albirex Niigata FC (S) by 12 points). Super Reds FC decided to go local at the end of the 2009 season with the intention to qualify for continental football to represent Singapore, and to develop local football talents. They re-branded themselves as the Yishun Super Reds.

S-league fans and supporters were ecstatic about Super Reds intention to turn local and had been looking forward for their participation in the new season. The local football scene had been turning stale with Sengkang Punggol FC and Balestier Khalsa FC perpetually rooted to the bottom of the table, and the Singapore Armed Forces FC (SAFFC) dominating with their 4th S-league title in a row.

Backed by their local Member of Parliament for Ang Mo Kio GRC, Lee Bee Wah, Club Chairman Charlie Yoon had big ambitions to make a challenge for the S-league title within 3 seasons. Other than improving the club house, he also planned to groom young players, such as sending them for football exchange programmes in Korea, implement player-attachments to Korea-based teams as well as giving out scholarships to their local recruits to further their studies.

“In over two years as chairman, I’ve spent $2.7 million on the club, and in the end we’ve got nothing,” Mr Charlie Yoon exclaimed in an interview with Today on 27th November 2009 (see photo above). “Now I want to set up a local team, create jobs and develop local players, at least that will help Singapore football in some way.”

As a result, the selection of Beijing Guo’an over Yishun Super Reds has shocked local football supporters and astounded even the non-fans.

People like Halim Wahab, who posted the following comment on the Football Association of Singapore’s facebook page, spelled out the general mood among local fans:

“I am really disappointed with the FAS decision on the clubs for the S-League. Shouldn’t we be looking after our own local clubs first before choosing a foreigner? Yishun Super Reds take the bold step to become local after 2 season of wonderful football as a Korean team – for the reason in helping to develop more local players and play a bigger role in helping local football – now that is something that we should applause the team for and give them the opportunity to do so…

And there is no harm in taking another team is there? So lets give the 13th slot to the Yishun Super Reds… u will do local football a lot of good – after FAS is suppose to be looking after local football isn’t it?!!!”

The selection of a China team is going to spell controversy. In 2003, Sinchi FC (China) became the first foreign team to participate in the S-league. Poor performance and rough play marked their legacy as they bowed out in 2005 due to financial reasons. In 2007, Liaoning Guangyuan become the 2nd China team to participate in the league, but the club was embroiled in a match-fixing controversy and was not invited to participate again in 2008. Dalian Shide Siwu became the next China team, replacing Liaoning Guangyuan, but ultimately, was booted out of the league after finishing 3rd from the bottom.

This selection snafu looks poised to evoke greater repercussions in the future: foreign teams may no longer consider turning local as an option, seeing how the Super Reds had been snubbed despite being prepared for the new season and having already formed the team; potential new local football clubs and their investors will be discouraged by the authorities’ disinterest in supporting new local teams; local footballing talents will be further discouraged to see football as a viable career path; or perhaps worse, the development of a perception that S-league and FAS’s ultimate goal is simply to get foreign talents to be naturalised for the national team.

I can only hope that FAS and the S-league would open up an unprecedented 13th slot for Yishun Super Reds FC and prove the prevailing perception wrong.


Foreign faux pas

(TODAY, VOICES, 21 Jan 2010)

EARLIER this week, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) unveiled the two teams that will complete the lineup for the 2010 Great Eastern-Yeo’s S-League: French side Etoile FC and Beijing Guo’an.

Foreign clubs in general have not performed well in Singapore. Sinchi FC, the first foreign club allowed into the S-League, withdrew after three years after they were punished for the indiscipline of their players on the pitch. Liaoning Guangyuan was engaged in a match-fixing scandal in 2007. Brunei DPMM were withdrawn from the league competition five games before the end of the last season. Sporting Afrique was involved in a salary dispute which drew international attention of the wrong sort.

Have you heard of any top-class leagues elsewhere in the world where they switch teams around every other season?

Having one or two foreign teams is okay, as they give us a platform to see if we are up to par, but having too many foreign teams in Singapore will not improve the standard of football here. On the contrary, many may instead choose to stop following the S-League. Will locals want to watch a match-up between Beijing Guo’an and Albirex? Or Albirex versus Etoile?

While bringing in foreign talent may work for table tennis, having foreign-based teams play here for one or two seasons before they wave goodbye is not the way to go. How are we to breed local talent if half the league consists of itinerant foreigners?

The foreign-based clubs mainly use their squads here as satellite bases to test youngsters or as a reserve team, and thus have more financial stability than most of the local teams, which struggle to make ends meet.

Local football will not thrive unless the FAS pumps in more resources and finance into breeding a whole new bunch of footballing talent. We need better infrastructure and more playing fields.

I’m honestly worried about the future of the local league. Already national players like Baihakki Khaizan and bad boy and fan favourite Noh Alam Shah have left to flaunt their skills in the Liga Indonesia.

It’s been too long a time since local greats like Fandi Ahmad and V Sundramoorthy lit up the footballing scene. Meanwhile, many of us fans are fed up with appalling performances and unrealistic targets – think Goal 2010 – set. The latest developments will not improve standards or increase crowds.

Aaron Wee Jun Jie


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Newsflash: Jasmine Yeong-Nathan is Sportswoman of the Year

National bowler Jasmine Yeong-Nathan has been named Singapore’s Sportswoman of the Year.

The 20-year-old, who created history last year when she became the first Singaporean ever to win the AMF World Cup, was voted the winner by a Sports Awards judging panel.

The other contenders for the award were paddler Li Jiawei, who finished fourth in the women’s singles at the Beijing Olympics and swimmer Tao Li, who became the first Singaporea swimmer to qualify for an Olympic final and also broke the Asian 100m butterfly mark en route to her fifth-placed finish in the final.

According to a report on Newsradio 93.8FM, Yeong-Nathan won the award by seven votes to four.

The Singapore Polytechnic student was in devastating form at the 44th QubicAMF World Cup in Mexico. She not only racked up a perfect game there but also destroyed defending champion Ann-Maree Putney of Australia 263-222, 298-215 in the final.

Prior to Yeong-Nathan’s World Cup win, Singapore’s best finish in the tournament were Henry Tan and Remy Ong’s silvers in the men’s finals in 1970 and 2002 respectively.

But the Sports Awards also had several twists this year.

The panel decided there were no worthy winners this year for the Sportsman and Coach of the Year Awards.

This is the first time in the 42-year history of the Awards that there is no winner for the Sportsman Award. Bowler Remy ONg was one of the nominees. It is not known who were the other nominees.

Two known nominees for the Coach of the Year Award were national bowling Mervyn Foo, who is one of Jasmine Yeong-Nathan’s coaches, and Australian swimming coach Peter Churchill, who coaches Tao Li. 

In another twist, Singapore National Olympic Council president Teo Chee Hean told Channel News Asia that table-tennis coach Liu Guodong would have easily won the Coach of the Year Award if the Singapore Table Tennis Association had nominated him.

Liu led the women’s national team to a silver at the Olympics but the achievement was subsequently clouded by shocking revelations that he had neglected the men’s squad’s preparations for the Olympics.

In fact, the men were often used as sparring partners for the women, said male paddler Gao Ning in subsequent media interviews. Nor did they not enjoy the same resources or priviliges as the women in the run-up to and during the Games.

Liu was chastised publicly by new STTA president Lee Bee Wah who hinted that his sevices might not be retained.

He eventually resigned from the STTA after expressing disgust at a new contract that he was offered, saying the terms were an insult to him.

But when contacted yesterday, Lee stood her ground and defended her association’s decision not to nominate Liu. “Coach of the Year must be naturally well-respected by all the players of the team,” she said.  

 Bowler Jazreel Tan won the Sportsgirl of the Year Award while the Sportsboy Award went to wushu exponent Yong Yixiang.

Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan  

Related links:

15 November 2008 – Newsflash: Jasmine is Singapore’s first AMF World Cup champion

20 March 2009 – Right move by the STTA not to nominate Liu for Coach of the Year Award

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