SINGAPORE — Women's football in Singapore received a significant boost on Wednesday (4 April), when professional services firm Deloitte was unveiled as the new title sponsor of its top league.
This is the first time Singapore's top-flight women's football league will have a title sponsor since its launch in 2000. The league will return on 28 May after a two-year pandemic-enforced absence under the name of Delotte Women's Premier League (WPL).
Deloitte’s three-year sponsorship, with an option for two additional years, will add more than $300,000 towards elevating the professionalism of the women's game in Singapore.
In thanking the firm during a media conference on Wednesday, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong said that the WPL represents how sports can propel progress and encourage active participation by women in sport.
"Women are challenging the stereotypes that hold us back. We want to also promote women’s empowerment, leadership, and help in other areas to develop a sense of identity and achievement by pursuing new opportunities," he said.
"I think we are on the cusp of something tremendous for women’s football."
Seven clubs to feature in new WPL season
There will be seven clubs in the WPL's 21st season: Albirex Niigata (Singapore), Balestier Khalsa, Hougang United, Lion City Sailors, Tanjong Pagar United, Tiong Bahru and Still Aerion. For Albirex, Balestier and Hougang, this will mark the first time the three Singapore Premier League clubs have incorporated a women's senior team within their setup.
With help from the FIFA COVID-19 Relief Plan and the Unleash the Roar! project, all seven clubs will each receive a subsidy and a dedicated training facility respectively.
"The women’s football fraternity has waited patiently for the return of the league, and we are grateful for their continued support," said Football Association of Singapore (FAS) president Lim Kia Tong.
"The FAS has taken the opportunity during this time to evolve the league with an increased number of clubs, a more competitive format and structured support provided for the teams to elevate the standard of football for our local female players.”
Each of the WPL teams can register up to 25 players, with a maximum of four foreign players and a minimum age of 16 years old. The clubs will also undergo a licensing programme to provide stability and structure to the staff and players.
Employment via athlete career opportunity program
Besides sponsoring the WPL, Deloitte also employs several women’s national football players through the Deloitte Ignite athlete career opportunity program, which has seen over 130 athletes work or have worked in Deloitte since 2014.
It is in discussions with FAS to extend the program for both men and women football players to open the doors to more work opportunities during and after their football careers.
"We believe that sports embodies our shared values of leadership, integrity, care, inclusion and collaboration, and this fuels our commitment towards developing sports within the local community," said Philip Yuen, chairman of Deloitte Singapore.
Women's football in Singapore has seen several significant developments this year. The national team has been selected to feature at the upcoming SEA Games in Hanoi - the first time they have earned the nod for the biennial Games since 2003 - and will also make their Asian Games debut in September.
In April, the team played in front of a paying public for the first time during the FAS Tri-Nations Series matches against Papua New Guinea and Seychelles at Jalan Besar Stadium.
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