Look beyond qualifying for World Cup 2034: MCCY Minister Tong
Minister will deem project a success only if S'pore's football ecosystem improves
As lofty as the project to qualify for World Cup 2034 is, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong will not consider Goal 2034 a success, unless it results in tangible improvements in Singapore's football ecosystem.
In August 2019, before his ministerial appointment, Mr Tong revealed the ambitious plan for the Lions to qualify for football's showpiece event in 2034.
He was then the vice-president of the Football Association of Singapore (FAS), a role he has since relinquished.
The announcement came more than 20 years after Singapore's last grand plan to qualify for World Cup 2010. First mooted in 1998, it failed to come to fruition, leading to scepticism of the Goal 2034 project.
However, Mr Tong is adamant that World Cup qualification is not the sole determinant of success for Goal 2034.
Speaking at a media engagement session on Tuesday, he said: "Goal 2034 is something that is going to be at the forefront of attention in the immediate future, partly because the FAS elections are coming up soon, so that will inevitably become a topic of discussion.
"But also because when we look at Goal 2034, I know I wore two hats, first at FAS and now at MCCY, but I see this as a broad-based objective, a broad-based goal."
Mr Tong emphasised that it's not just about qualifying for the World Cup, it has to be a long-term objective that will benefit the sport in Singapore.
He added: "What do I mean by that? I mean if we make it to the World Cup, good, but if we don't, then I want to see, at least, that we can improve our standards.
"Our training facilities, training regimen, quality of athletes, the base of players that we have, the programmes we have in school, in the grassroots, in our CCs (community centres), all should be enhanced, the quality of coaches coming through.
"If we can't improve on all this, but yet we somehow qualify, I would not see that as success... The point I'm making today is that we got to look beyond qualification. It's got to be an objective that is grounded in longer-term sustainability.
"If we qualify in '34, we want to make sure we continue to do so in '38, '42 and so on.
"If we don't qualify in '34, then we must be in a far better position in '38 thereafter. The only way to do this is we build from the ground up."