When I was young, I ever asked myself why there wasn’t any an event or competition-like reality show to unearth good futbol players who were good but just short of some lady-luck? In futbol context, many seasons passed, Singapore is finally doing one, First XI!
A quick intro of First XI, a nationwide search will take place to unearth the best amateur football talents in Singapore aged 18 and above. This will be an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the man in the street to be part of a specially selected team to train under former Liverpool’s legend, Steve McMahon and former Singapore International, R.Sasikumar. The “First XI” will be put through 4 months of training, physical challenges and competitive matches. At the end of 4 months, the “First XI” will be selected and will then take on a professional team in the final LIVE televised match on Channel 5.
Due to my past coaching tenure, I was invited by the show’s management to assist Steve McMahon and R.Sivakumar for the trial which was held at Bishan Stadium. The respond was so overwhelming which saw nearly 1,600 players turned up at the Stadium and went through all 4 skill stations! I was at the most hatred station - Beep Test, so-called fitness test station.
Feedbacks for the trial were not extremely pleasant on the web partly due to the logistic challenges. I agreed that a 2-sided game might offer trialists more opportunities to show what they were capable of. However, as much as I want to be neutral, from my personal point of view, these 4 stations, Speed (Dribbling), Accuracy (Small net & Score board) and Fitness (Beep), offered an instant evaluation on a player’s mentality and technical aspect. Why was that so?
Well, everybody wanted a 2-sided game to show what they were capable of but First XI was looking for TALENTS. Talents, who were presented at Bishan Stadium, were those who could overcome the fear within themselves and pressure to outdo the rest of the 1,600 pax instantly! When given a chance, Talent shone and announced their presences within seconds under the applauses given by the spectators from the stand. Guys, touch your hearts and think about it, this is the difference between you, a good player, and an excellent player, the Talent.
This is the very first time we are doing such a futbol reality show. With this brand-new experience, I believe the second episode, if there is any, will be a much more successful one. A much more successful one means the current one is already a success to me! Despite suffering from a bad sunburn on my face, neck and limps, what I had gained was rare experience. I witnessed how Steve McMahon worked and what were the type of players he was interested. Good luck to all the players who made it through to the 3rd or 4th round. And do remember to catch my face on Channel 5 this coming March, First XI!