WEEKLY ROUND-UP: Sports happenings in Singapore (1-7 Mar)

Staff Writer, Singapore
·Editorial Team
·7-min read
Irfan Fandi in action for BG Pathum United in Thai League 1
Irfan Fandi in action for BG Pathum United in Thai League 1. (PHOTO: Pakawich Damrongkiattisak/Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — Here is a round-up of sports events and developments in Singapore in the past week (1 to 7 March):

Irfan Fandi is first Singaporean to win Thai League 1

Irfan Fandi became the first Singaporean footballer to win the Thai top division, widely recognised as South-east Asia's strongest league, when his team BG Pathum United clinched the Thai League 1 on Thursday (4 March).

The Pathum Thani-based club are unbeaten this season, winning 21 and drawing three games. They have 66 points and are 19 clear of second-placed Buriram United with six games left.

Irfan, 23, had also helped the side gain promotion to the top league last season. The central defender, who is the eldest son of Singapore football great Fandi Ahmad, played 17 games and contributed to 11 clean sheets despite suffering a separated collarbone in October last year.

Yu Mengyu puts up creditable s-final showing at Qatar Open

National table tennis player Yu Mengyu had a creditable showing at the Qatar Open, managing to reach the semi-finals before losing to world No. 3 Mima Ito of Japan on Friday (5 March).

The 31-year-old, who last reached a women's singles semi-final stage at the 2018 Asian Games, had managed to defeat world No. 11 Miu Hirano of Japan in the round-of-16 stage in Doha. In the quarter-finals, the world No. 50 swept past Thailand's Suthasini Sawettabut in straight games.

Yu will be hoping to improve on her quarter-final showing at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, when she heads for the Tokyo Olympics this July.

AIA Singapore CEO Wong Sze Keed (left) and FAS president Lim Kia Tong at the signing ceremony to extend the life insurance company's sponsorship of the Singapore Premier League. (PHOTO: FAS)
AIA Singapore CEO Wong Sze Keed (left) and FAS president Lim Kia Tong at the signing ceremony to extend the life insurance company's sponsorship of the Singapore Premier League. (PHOTO: FAS)

FAS renews title sponsorship of SPL with AIA Singapore

The Football Association of Singapore announced on Tuesday (2 March) that it has renewed its title sponsorship of the Singapore Premier League (SPL) with AIA Singapore.

Under the new agreement, AIA Singapore will continue to support the professional league through to the 2022 season, with the option to extend for an additional three years thereafter.

In addition, both parties will collaborate on several initiatives to be rolled out over the course of the partnership, including rewarding the AIA Player of the Month and AIA Young Player of the Month during the SPL season. This will complement the AIA Player of the Year accolade, which is bestowed at the end of the season.

The FAS and AIA Singapore are also exploring opportunities to involve SPL stars and leverage AIA’s global ambassadors and partnership with Tottenham Hotspur. Activities include specific match-viewing events for fans and community football clinics for youth players in schools conducted by SPL footballers, FAS coaching staff and Tottenham Hotspur coaches.

The new SPL season is scheduled to get underway on 13 March. The opening day will see defending champions Albirex Niigata FC (S) take on Hougang United and Lion City Sailors FC host Tampines Rovers FC.

Singapore Swimming Association renews partnership with Liberty Insurance

The Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) announced on Tuesday (3 March) that Liberty Insurance is renewing its partnership as the association’s official general insurance partner until 2022.

The cash and in-kind sponsorship by Liberty Insurance will see the SSA continue to receive insurance coverage for athletes, staff, volunteers and technical officials as part of Liberty Insurance’s pledge to continue grooming the next generation of athletes.

Since being the SSA’s Official Insurance Partner in 2017, Liberty Insurance has been the title sponsor of both the 49th and 50th Singapore National Age Group Swimming Championships in 2018 and 2019, as well as the February Time Trials and South-East Asian (SEA) Games Open Water Qualifiers in 2017.

It also organised two editions of the Liberty Wave Open Water Swim in 2017 and 2018 at East Coast Park which saw more than 700 participants challenge themselves and the limits against the currents.

Singapore wins hosting rights for AFC Cup group stage

Singapore has won the hosting rights to stage the AFC Cup Group H and I matches from 22 to 28 June, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) announced on Monday (1 March).

This means that the two Singapore Premier League who qualified for the competition – Lion City Sailors and Geylang International – will play their group matches at home. Aside from Singapore, the other group stage games will be held in Bahrain, Jordan, Maldives, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Hong Kong.

The Sailors are in Group H with Malaysia’s Kedah, Vietnam’s Saigon FC and the winner of a play-off between Cambodia’s Visakha and Timor-Leste’s Lalenok United. Geylang will face the Philippines’ Kaya FC-Iloilo, Myanmar’s Shan United or Ayeyawady United, and Malaysia’s Terengganu in Group I.

Both the AFC Cup and Asian Champions League will be played in centralised venues this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, instead of its traditional home-and-away format.

New women's national football head coach Stephen Ng. (PHOTO: Football Association of Singapore)
New women's national football head coach Stephen Ng. (PHOTO: Football Association of Singapore)

Stephen Ng appointed head coach of Lionesses

The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) announced on Sunday (7 March) the appointment of Stephen Ng as the new head coach of the women’s national team on a two-year term. 

Ng, a former Singapore international goalkeeper, spent six years at the Brunei FA, helping to develop women’s grassroots football in the country by providing support for women's coach education, organising women's grassroots school festivals and conducting coaching courses for women coaches. 

He has had experience coaching at youth level as well, being the Singapore Under-14 coach back in 2013. During his 15-year playing career, he turned out for Sembawang Rangers, Tiong Bahru United as well as Gombak United in the S-League.

Ng will lead the Lionesses through competitions such as the AFC Women's Asian Cup 2022 qualifiers from 13 to 25 September, the AFF Women's Championship 2021 (August/September) as well as the SEA Games in Vietnam (November).

The appointment coincided with the AFC Women’s Football Day celebrations on Sunday, when five different mini-tournaments were held at Jalan Besar Stadium for women's footballers of all ages.

StanChart Singapore Marathon organising International Women's Day challenges

Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon (SCSM) is commemorating International Women’s Day with a series of virtual races, challenges, workshops, sharing sessions and content around celebrating women in Singapore over a three-week period from 8 to 31 March.

As part of the campaign, there will be a three-week-long collective distance challenge available for all runners of the SCSM Virtual Club. It will be an open-goal challenge where runners can clock in as many runs and walks as they can to contribute towards the overall community distance.

Female runners can also look forward to sweating it out through a series of fun and heart-pumping workout sessions with three respected fitness influencers in Singapore – Sofie Chandra, Cheryl Tay, and Choo Ling Er.

Get up close and personal with each of the influencers at the end of each session with an exclusive sharing session, where they will share their insights and personal experience over a range of topics such as fitness goals and their struggles as female athletes. Members will also walk away with free goodie bags at the end of the sessions.

All participants are also invited to join the International Women's Day social media contest by nominating women who have inspired their own fitness journeys on Instagram to stand a chance to win a Jaybird Run XT worth $299. Contest will run from 8 to 31 March and a winner will be announced on 2 April.

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