Besides writing for the S.League website, one of my jobs when I moved to Singapore was to write for the Garena Young Lions who are playing in the S.League. Technically they are the U21 Singapore National Team, just like the now debunked Harimau Muda (Young Tigers) in Malaysia. Mostly I had to update their website with match previews, reports and reactions.
I don’t work for the team directly, as in I’m not their in-house writer or media officer, but writing for them meant I must feel that I am part of the team. Whatever I published must be positive and always on their side. Which make sense because you can’t have ‘Young Lions were rubbish in that game’ written on their own website, can you?
The problem is I am not part of the team and not even part of the Singapore FA. So how do you keep being on their side? You can’t even be neutral when you’re reporting about them. That’s not the case. You must make them look good. Always.
If someone is a stranger to you, where you have no slightest emotion towards them, how can you bring yourself to write something nice about them? It is hard to pretend that you care even if you try sometimes.
That’s not the worst part yet. The most challenging thing for me would be having to write positively, encouragingly, supportively about a team who’s rooted at the bottom of the table with only one win in ten games so far. Since I started writing for them, I have never seen them won a game. I was not writing for them yet when they won their first and only game.
When they tasked me to write for the Young Lions, I knew this team is going to give me a tough time throughout the season. The S.League has been very competitive this season and Young Lions being young and very inexperienced, there’s no surprise they are bottom of the league.Them struggling to win means I need to figure out a way to help me with the writings.
This team obviously needs support. I’m not going to touch on whether the program even benefits Singapore football. That’s another long story. They don’t even have that many fans so the least I can do was try to find something good from every loss. If it’s hard for me to be encouraging in my writings about them, it must be harder for them to lose every week.
The only way for me to keep being on the team’s side when I’m writing for them is to get closer to the team. A few years back, I used to write a lot about Harimau Muda A. I wasn’t writing for them but I was always on their side and it didn’t need much effort. It happened naturally because I was close with the team since they first started playing in the S.League.
I knew every player, every coach and backroom staff of the team to a point where I did feel I was part of the team. They were very close to my heart so to be on their side even after every loss, every bad performance was not difficult. In fact I got annoyed when I read negative reports or stories about them even if they were true.
And I thought that’s exactly what I had to do with the Young Lions. I started with covering their trainings and games more than the other games or teams. I needed to get closer to the team, get to know the coaches, the players. They can’t see me like the other writers. They need to know I’m on their side. This helped a lot with my writings.
Normally, you are on someone’s side because you care about them. You need to feel for them and naturally you will be supportive of them.
But of course, even if I was on their side, my writings will still have to make sense. I can’t say they did well when they lost 5-0. That’s just deluded. But perhaps I can say that it was a good experience for the boys and it’s important for them to keep working hard to improve, something like that.
Well unfortunately I won’t be writing for them anymore. Due to some changes that’s beyond my control, the Singapore FA will have to find someone else to write for them now. But I hope whoever that takes over can take this as an advice which I strongly believe will very much help them with their writings.