KRISHNA Ramachandra is a big-hearted football fan with biggest dream for Singapore football.
The Vice President-candidate for the upcoming FAS (Football Association of Singapore) elections thinks passionately just like legendary Brazilian striker Pele, who advocates the “bola” game as “Jogo Bonito”, which in Portuguese, means “The Beautiful Game”.
He says: “In this upcoming elections, we must show that football must be the winner. There’s no place for egoism or personal vendettas, absolutely no animosity.
“Team Lim Kia Tong (LKT) and the ‘Game Changers’ must transcend the past difficulties, the historical differences and ensure that Made-in-Singapore football rises to its rightful place as the potent force that galvanises Singaporeans as truly one people.
“This is my dream and I vow to be guided by this philosophy in whatever I do.”
From a football-fanatic family of three teenagers, Krishna, the Chairman of five-times S-League champion Tampines Rovers, believes in an “inclusive football culture” to take Singapore football a positive step forward, so that younger Singaporeans can further enjoy football, the world’s No 1 sport.
That’s why he stands to be counted. He wants to be part of the positive-engaging formula of the “Game Changers”, under the iconic leadership of Bill Ng.
Krishna says: “When you bring people who are within the football circle and those who are outside the circle, you get a fresh perspective of things.
“The fact that our team encompasses representatives of all races and women candidates is reflective that we’re sincere and genuine in achieving our longer-term goals.”
Family involvement in football, starting right from the grassroots, going deep to the Housing Board heartlanders is closest to his heart and he’s a first-class family role-model.
He says: “I would almost say, this is the most important stakeholder in Singapore football. It is the untied family unit. I speak from my own personal experience and once a family unit engages collectively in the sport, we have the proverbial 12th man spurring Singapore football on.
“We must never ever forget that football belongs to all of Singapore and it must never be jealously guarded at the expense of others. Embrace all as a family would.”
To push for this sporting culture, his eldest son, 14-year-old Rohin, is at the Singapore Sports School, ready to be fine-tuned to be a football professional. He has to date represented Singapore Under-15 at the Asean Football Festival. Rohin’s a naturally prolific striker and in one season in Primary Five, he scored 53 goals in 13 games. He’s even convinced that he’s going to play for Liverpool!
Krishna adds: “It’s because of supporting my kids’ interest and involvement with the sport that I got sucked into the whole world of football.”
The big changes he envisages in Singapore football? He smiles and replies: Wow, this is such a significant question and at first blush appears daunting. However, upon greater reflection, I know that the entire ecosystem could do with a hand, in any and all aspects.
“So any small step within any strata of the ecosystem would be a step forward. As a team, we have to make sure an effective division of labour will allow us to undertake a non-banal strategy overall.
“Excitement is needed. Innovation is needed. Passion is a given and all will flow on naturally so long as the leadership truly walks the talk. It is a complex process but it can eventually become simple.
“The first steps are bound to be important for us to engender the trust and confidence of the people. It is going to be a long steady journey so we much all exercise patience, steadfastness and stay committed till the end.”
First impression of Krishna and he’s a classic case of brain-and-brawn as an international corporate lawyer. He graduated with honours from Cambridge University on a twin scholarship, and is today recognised as a leading lawyer in three distinct areas of practice in multiple jurisdictions – Corporate Law, Capital Markets and Sports Law.
BREATH OF FRESH AIR
Many say this handsome corporate lawyer is the best breath of refreshing air that has smacked Singapore football since the 1970s era of the late Nadesan Ganesan.
He dares to be different. He’s ultra-passionate on football. His focus is just on bringing up the sport, from the grassroots. He’s just a down-to-earth footballing maniac.
He’s even a dare-devil in his personal and professional pursuits. He signed former Liverpool star Jermaine Pennant, making headlines across Asia and in Europe. Krishna last year organised the Pentagon Awards (supported by the Asian Football Confederation) to recognise men and women in South-east Asia who have contributed to the sport both on and off the pitch on top of sporting excellence, with the Johor Prince (now FAM President) as guest of honour.
He daringly worked hard to switch Tampines’ AFC Cup quarter-final home clash with Selangor from the 6,000-capacity Jalan Besar Stadium to the National Stadium and the match attracted around 15,000 fans.
He even signed Gerard Houllier as the club’s international ambassador. And he answered the national call when he made no fuss in allowing coach V Sundramoorthy to hold sway as Lions supremo earlier last year.
Off the field, too, his high-end passion for fast cars is legendary as he was the Past President of the Ferrari Owners’ Club and relishes keeping a stable of exquisite four-wheelers.
This 46-year-old black-suited lawyer, who is the head of Duane Morris & Selvam’s Corporate Finance and Investment and Private Client Practice Groups, is in one long word: Extraordinary.
PASSION AND BELIEF
“My primary goal as club chairman is to support Singapore football and bring back the passion and belief that, in my opinion, have been lost in recent years,” says Krishna. “I joined Bill Ng because I believe in his football professionalism.”
Why “Game Changers” and Bill Ng?
He replies: “It was the very infectious sense of service and selflessness that the entire team displayed through my pre-joining interactions with them.
“The altruism flowing through their actions, care for one another and the greater fraternity was frankly, awe-inspiring. I just couldn’t say no. Important, almost as an unsaid team ethos, ego has absolutely no place in this team and we make sure none of us inadvertently allows it to surface.”
In ending, he passionately repeats his “biggest dream” for Singapore football: “It must transcend the past difficulties, the historical differences and rises to its rightful place as the potent force that galvanises the Singapore people as truly one people. This is my dream and I vow to be guided by this philosophy in whatever I do.”
Raise your glasses to the family-football-friend gentleman: Krishna Ramachandra.
‘Game Changers’ is led by awe-inspiring businessman Bill Ng and the alternative team of 15 football-hearted personalities will be contesting the FAS elections on April 29 at the SportsHub.