A Great Loss to Singapore Football

Mr Nadesan Ganesan — famous for creating the Kallang Roar — passed away on Wednesday (1 June) morning at the age of 82. He collapsed while having breakfast and paramedics later failed to resuscitate him.

Mr Ganesan suffered from a stroke in 2011 that left him wheel-chair bound and with a speech impediment. He had been living in a nursing home at Sarkies Road since.

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How Kallang Roar was born

Mr Ganesan, affectionately known as ‘Gani’ by Singapore football family, took leadership under Football Association Singapore (FAS) from 1974 -1981.

He moved Singapore’s Malaysia Cup matches from Jalan Besar Stadium to the new National Stadium in 1974. In an official statement, FAS commented that “[t]he bold and visionary move led to 55,000-strong crowds flocking to the Grand Old Dame to cheer on the Lions and the various national teams,  and in turn helped to create the famous Kallang Roar.”

That’s right, Chu Beng Huat was not the original creator of Kallang Roar.

Singapore football during its ‘golden period’

Mr Ganesan remodelled the National Football League from 118 teams to a powerful collective of 30 teams, a legacy that exists to this day. He was also credited for creating the Lion City Cup, which subsequently became the model for FIFA’s U-16 World Championships.

Mr Ganesan’s stewardship of the FAS was also marked by football success on the pitch. The Lions’ first victory under his leadership in 1977 was memorable because it was 12 years since they won the Malaysia Cup. In 1980, the Lions managed to win the title again and almost reached the Olympics Games before losing to Iran.

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FAS stated that, “Under his reign, Singapore footballers like Quah Kim Song, S. Rajagopal, Mohammed Noh, Dollah Kassim, Samad Allapitchay, Edmund Wee and a host of others became football superstars in our country, well-known by all, and much loved for their memorable performances on the pitch.”

Close ties with the Lions

Mr Ganesan was a successful lawyer, but he will be remembered from the inspiration and encouragement that he gave to the Lions. He was vocal and animated on the bench, showing his passion for Singapore football.

He was also known as a father figure to the players. Despite his busy schedule, he attended the Lions’ training each day. He even aided some of the players who struggled financially with his own income.

The bond he forged with the Lions were lifelong.

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He will be dearly missed

A minute of silence will be observed this week before the kick-off to all Singaporean football matches in his remembrance.

I’m sure that he had few regrets, as he spent his life doing what he loved with devotion. He was a great man, a role model to sportsmen and he was humble with his accomplishments. He stood firm with his beliefs and would stand up for it.

Mr Ganesan was considered as one of the greatest sportsman administrator that Singapore ever had due to his hardwork and determination. The decisions he made paved the way for Singapore football. He was not afraid to be hands-on the field to ensure the policies he implemented worked. The mark that he left in Singapore’s sporting industry was deep and impactful.

“After all, it matters not how a man dies, but how he lives.”

Samuel Johnson

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With refrences from the Football Association of Singapore, Channel NewsAsia, The Straits Times, Today, The New Paper