We are not allowed to step foot on the main field of the high school because we are not an official school sport. We have to wait for the soccer kids to finish their practice. We football players deal with this lack of respect because we have such a genuine passion for the game and we are willing to sacrifice our time in order to get a chance to get out on the field.
As the legendary football coach Vince Lombardi said, “Football is like life – it requires perseverance, self-denial, hard work, sacrifice, dedication, and respect for authority.” These advantageous qualities are ingrained in us the moment we step on the gridiron. Today there are fewer players in the Singapore American Football League than ever before, and many SAS students are missing out on the opportunity to obtain these invaluable life lessons at a very early stage.
The Singapore American Football League was created 40 years ago because teachers and students at SAS realized the advantages that the game provided to young men. Unfortunately now, 40 years into the SAFL tradition, students seem to be blinded from these advantages, and only 30-40 students come out to give the game a shot.
The Singapore American Football League truly is a family. We have one connection, and that is the fact that we all love the game of football and we were given the rare opportunity to play it in a place like Singapore. SAFL alum James Courtney said that “the rarity of the opportunity creates an energetic bond between the players that is seemingly impossible to break .”
Despite the advantages of the experience, the Singapore American Football League has had a very sporadic 40 years. There have been seasons where 100 kids have played and seasons where 30 kids have played. Pinpointing the reasons for these patterned trends is very difficult to do.
Currently, the league is in a downward spiral. The game isn’t less fun and the camaraderie still exists, there are simply fewer players. The league is not trying to recruit more players because they are in desperate need of them, but because they genuinely do not want young teenagers to miss out on the opportunity of a lifetime.
Overstatement? Not at all. It truly is an incredible opportunity. Current football player Sam Bernasconi said that “[Singapore football] is a great opportunity because people from all over the world come together and play a game that is typically only played in the United States.”
It is a game that requires the full capacity of the mind, body, and soul. SAFL alumni and legend, Andrew Roberts said “[Football] is a very demanding sport and to get through it, it takes a lot of passion.” This may be a turn off to many of the boys out there, but to the men, it should ignite a desire to play. Football is one of the most challenging and demanding sports in the world, and it takes passion to reach success.
And what do all of our parents and teachers tell us about our future? In order to be successful, in whatever it is that you do, you must be passionate. The parallels are clear. Former SAFL alum and current banker, Danny Albanese, describes high school football in two words: “Door opening.” He took advantage of the qualities he obtained from playing the game of football and applied them to his academics, getting into a good school (Case Western Reserve University) and being offered a great job in Chicago.
I am not trying to instill a passion for the game. That would be an impossible task. Rather, I am simply trying to get young teenagers to go out and try the sport, and it will truly speak for itself.