Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The last word on a recent sporting trip to Singapore

The last word on a recent sporting trip to Singapore
by rick olivares pic by brosi gonzales

View of ongoing construction of the new Singapore National Stadium from Nicoll Highway.

Dream big. Achieve big. Looking at Singapore’s new National Stadium.
In six months’ time, there’ll be a new fixture in the urban landscape of Singapore.

The new National Stadium is slated to open by April 2013 as the centerpiece of the Singapore Sports Hub. The stadium will cater to football, rugby, cricket, and athletics. Although it will seat much less than Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas (minimum of 113,000 and a capacity of 130,000 standing), the Singapore National Stadium will seat only 55,000 but will be much bigger in terms of structure and area.

The new structure will have a retractable roof that is made of lightweight material called ETFE which is weather resistant and coated against the sun’s ultra-violet rays and will take 25 minutes to open or close. Either side of the retractable roof is a massive projector screen that can display images. For evening events, there are 3,000 LED lights to turn night into day.

Aside from the National Stadium, there’s also the renovation and improvement of the area that was previously the site of the old national stadium where I caught one the last matches ever held there (Liverpool vs. Singapore). The last couple of games played there included the Socceroos against the Lions where the Australians won 3-0 courtesy of a Mark Viduka brace and a Harry Kewell goal and a game against Iran that the visitors won 3-1.

This area in Kallang is known collectively as the Singapore Sports Hub where the entire project costs a whopping $1.33 billion! The whole hub should be operational in time for the 2012 Southeast Asian Games of which Singapore is the host. Poh Yu Khing, Chief Operating Officer of the Sports Hub proudly said during the media briefing last October 4, “We are a small country of big dreams. And we turn them into a reality.”

A last look at the Loyola Meralco Sparks semis loss to Tampines Rovers
What can I say about the Loyola Meralco Sparks semis series with Tampines?

Of course the final result was disappointing but when you pull back and take stock of the whole experience, Loyola went farther than anyone could have imagined. Could they have beaten Tampines? Sure. But maybe if they had played the Stags sometimes at the end of the last UFL league season.

What I am getting at is match fitness that is overlooked by many even the casual fan. All they can see is the final scoreline. The lack of optimum fitness was noticeable not just by myself but also by the opposing team and Singaporean media. The Sparks have only recently begun to play friendlies and have yet to play in the UFL Cup (although that will change by tonight). Tampines is coming to the end of their long S.League campaign.

The Sparks went smack against a team that is trying to win back to back S.League crowns.

Sure Loyola was outplayed and we will not take anything away from Tampines. They were the better side.

In order to understand the 3-0 score of the second leg, you have to understand that Loyola hoped to score an early goal in the match. The Stags opted to sit back and counter and hoped that the Sparks would tire themselves out. When the goals did not happen in the first half and then Tampines scored, the team had no choice but to commit more players to the attack. Chad Gould in particular. Whether a team gets beat 1-0 or 3-0 is no different because the coaching staff had to take chances in trying to pull back one.

Can UFL teams compete in the Singapore Cup?

Yes, they can. Tampines players and Singaporean media said that the two matches the Stags played against Loyola were their best all season long. That says loads about the growth of Philippine football and club football as well.

I noticed however the different in terms of support that Singaporeans have for their clubs. In the Singapore Cup, attendance ranged anywhere from 1,200 to 5,000 plus. The best attended matches involved Loyola. In the Malaysia Cup that was also played around the same time we were there, Jalan Besar Stadium was packed for the matches between local side Lions XII and Malaysian club, ATM. I know there’s a rivalry between the two neighboring countries but still it would have been fun to see locals come out and support their team.

Having said that, I would love to see clubs like Global, Kaya, Stallion and the others figure here. That would be a huge test.


My indie laden Singapore soundtrack:
Seapony - Falling
The Raveonettes - Observator
Dave Matthews Band - Away from the World
No Doubt - Push and Shove
The xx - Coexist
Stars - The North
Porcelain Raft - Strange Weekend
Best Coast - The Only Place
The Wonder Years - The Upsides
Green Day - Uno!
Reel Big Fish - Candy Coated Fury

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