Had Noh Alam Shah been a Malysian, he probably would have been banned for speaking his mind as Reduan Abdullah found out after he spoke the truth about Malaysian Football. And B. Sathianathan lost his job..
WHY HE SPOKE UP
What was your intention when you made those negative comments about the S-League?
Noh Alam Shah: I have the interest of Singapore football at heart. I said all those things on behalf of S-League footballers, so that the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) know how we feel, so that they will take steps to improve things. We never had the chance to speak up, or were afraid to do so. Right from the start, I wasn't angry. I was just voicing an honest opinion.
What was the trigger for your outburst?
I don't know what's going to happen to me after this. But I have been tolerating many things for very long. However, this year, so many things happened that I just couldn't take it any more. I was already disillusioned after the Singapore-Liverpool game, at how we were made to feel like an away team when we were playing at the National Stadium. Getting sent off by referees? I was already used to it. And I still think that the way I was treated by referees is ridiculous.
But the breaking point came when Teo Hock Seng, my Tampines Rovers chairman, was slapped with a touchline ban. (Last month, the Football Association of Singapore disciplinary committee imposed a touchline ban on Teo until the end of this season for misconduct.)
He is such a passionate football man. But he was punished for that. That, for me, was the last straw.
Did you discuss with your family and friends beforehand?
I speak the truth. I say what I see. I told my boss, wife, team-mates and even ex-national footballers about what I was going to do. All of them told me to be honest and to say what I feel. My last game for Tampines was so memorable. There were about five photographers behind the goal. I can't think of that much media interest in an S-League game in recent years. Is this what I have to do for the S-League to get the attention of everyone? We, the players and the FAS, need to work together to see how we can make local football exciting again.
Have you always been such an outspoken person?
Yes, I don't care what others think, as long as I am honest with myself. People can say what they want. All I know is I don't want to be a hypocrite.
Some fans reacted negatively to your comments. Why do you think so?
Maybe, some Singapore fans just love to give negative comments. Of course, they are passionate in a way. They will always be there to comment, but they are not always there to watch us play. They form their opinion based on what they read in the media, not after seeing it for themselves.They say they are coming to support us, but they don't.
I have had enough of this.
Some think you are biting the hand that feeds you. Do you agree?
I don't. The only hand that was feeding me was Tampines chairman Teo Hock Seng's. Yes, the S-League opened a door to a life as a footballer, something I would never have imagined as a kid. But once I stepped through that door, I had to work my socks off to be where I am. I have worked hard to be where I am today.
Do you feel you have let down those fans who supported you and the national team?
If they support me, they won't think that way. On the streets, I was approached by people who told me I did a brave thing. Many of my colleagues in the S-League thanked me for speaking out for them.
With Mustafic Fahrudin, Baihakki Khaizan, Ridhuan Muhammad and Precious Emuejeraye also sealing moves to the Indonesia Super League, do you think this is good for Singapore football?
IT'S good for their development. For me, I'm already 29, and I have different reasons for going abroad. For the younger ones, such as Ridhuan and Baihakki, they will be exposed to many things that they won't see here. They will return to Singapore as more experienced players.
Even learning how to negotiate a contract will open them up to other things in life. Ridhuan didn't know how to negotiate with Arema Malang. I was there to help him with it.
You made several allegations that painted the S-League in a bad light. What do you think can do done to improve things
(It is a fitness test that all S-League players must pass annually before they can be registered.)
BY OCTOBER, before the season ends, players will already be thinking of the Beep Test for the following season.
Their careers are on the line.
It saddens me when players have to leave football here just because they can't pass their Beep Test. When it happens, It feels like someone in my trade just died.
We should scrap the Beep Test.
Some of these players who fail it can still contribute.
Yes, use it as a a gauge for player fitness.
But I have my objections when a player's rice bowl depends on its result.
INITIALLY, we had a lot of media coverage of the S-League. But it died down after a while.
If I, having played in the S-League for years, don't even know who the up-and-coming players are, how will the man on the street know?
I remember being featured in The New Paper in 1998 as a promising young player, and I remember being thrilled at seeing my face in the newspapers.
It spurred me on and made me work even harder.
We also have to sell the game to our younger generation, the primary and secondary school kids, to develop their passion for local football.
These kids are dying to meet us. But we need to find out how to connect the kids and the footballers. Maybe the S-League can come up with events to bring us together.
We need to believe in the S-League.
Forget about those who keep talking about the Malaysia Cup.
I wished I could play in the Malaysia Cup, too, but there's no point talking about it anymore because it's not going to come back.
IF YOU pay peanuts, what do you get?
Let's not even talk about Iranian World Cup players Mohamed Khakpour and Hamid Reza Estili.
But where are the Tawan Sripans, the Zsolt Bucs, and the Joselito da Silvas?
We don't have such players anymore.
We need better foreigners in the S-League.
SEE NO EVIL, HEAR NO EVIL
Why do you think Singapore athletes are afraid of speaking up?
THAT'S the nature of typical Singaporeans. Maybe they are worried about offending people. Many footballers have little education and suffer from low self-esteem as a result.
I'm still a little scared when I have to talk in English.
Maybe they generally lack confidence, so many of them prefer to keep quiet and move on.