American football in Singapore has been in existence for 40 years. There have been many highs and lows for the sport in this small island country in Southeast Asia, but the past few years have brought new challenges and major concerns.
In 1974, a group of volunteers came together under the then-recently formed Singapore American Community Action Council to create new sports programs that would resonate with young people far from home. From that group, the Singapore American Football League was born. The SAFL is dedicated to teaching and nurturing the skills, strengths and habits necessary to play the game of American football while teaching important life lessons.
For many years, there was enormous support with fields being built, each team having their own sponsors and the entire community being involved. Unfortunately, in this part of the world, the initial enthusiasm did not last, and it has been a battle ever since to maintain consistent support.
The SAFL was – and still is – the only American football league in Singapore. And as the first ever SACAC sport, the SAFL council and SACAC board are working hard for American football to survive in the country. One worrying fact is that participation has dropped from 210 players in 2012 to just 100 players in 2014.
One of many initiatives this season is all SAFL coaches will become USA Football Level 1 certified this fall. In 2016, there are plans for the league to be part of the newly launched IFAF Coaching Education, which will teach Heads Up Football curriculum internationally.
The organizers, staff and SAFL families are doing whatever they can to make sure the league not only survives but strives. They have been doing big things this offseason to make for an exciting 2015 – and for the future ahead – so be sure to follow them on Facebook for updates and announcements.
SAFL offers youth football for boys and girls ages 9 to 18 and flag football for ages 6 to 9. The Singapore Falcons select high school team has four confirmed international games this coming fall and will travel to Korea for a week during the school’s fall break for two varsity games and a possible junior varsity game.
For more information or to help support the league, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason Batt is the Singapore Community Action Council sports director and an administrator in the Singapore American Football League.