‘Ultras culture’ at football stands allows Singaporeans to blow off steam

The Yellow Knights, die-hard fans of Tampines Rovers FC, was persuaded to join Season 9 of the Fan Club Futsal League after a very strong online campaign by fellow Singapore Premier League (SPL) fan clubs, Hougang Hools and Ultras Eagles.

The confirmation of the club’s participation was waited upon with bated breath by their local supporters.

The Yellow Knights was founded in 2019, following their football team’s eastern derby against Geylang International FC the same year.

A group of them decided to start some chants and songs at the derby. Like-minded fans joined in, and soon after, a WhatsApp group was set up, and the rest, as they say, is history.

The fan club is the result of an unplanned, organic gathering of Tampines Rovers fans who wanted to form a fan club like Hougang Hools or Ultras Eagles.

The Yellow Knights was also founded because between 2016 and 2019, Tampines Rovers supporters had a reputation of creating a “library-like” atmosphere at the venues.

Unhappy with this reputation, some of the fans took it upon themselves to improve the overall match-day experience for themselves and others around them, which was another reason why it was founded.

In the early days of the SPL, the matches were played in front of sell-out crowds.

Today, the crowd at matches are significantly smaller but the fans are organised and embrace the Ultras culture. The supporters feel that the die-hard fan culture had always existed in Singapore, but the adoption of organised fan culture, like the Ultras, is relatively new in the republic.

The Internet and social media played a big part in encouraging more Singapore football fans to adopt such a culture. This is accompanied by the spectacular support and passion shown by football fans in countries near and far that are highly infectious, and awe-inspiring.

Some members of The Yellow Knights have theorised that die-hard football fans have embraced the Ultras culture to blow off some steam and welcome a community of like-minded individuals.

The stresses of a demanding, isolated and stifling life in Singapore means there is a lot of pent-up frustration here.

A live football match here is one of the last remaining spaces in Singapore where you can truly let loose and be an emotional human being without being judged.

The Ultras fan culture is a “stress buster”, and that is important, not only to the sport, but to the soul of the nation as well. These hardcore, passionate football fans truly make it a beautiful game.

On the age-old dilemma of getting more fans into the stadiums to watch local football, the Yellow Knights feels everyone involved in Singapore football needs to play a role. The fan club feels there should be collaborations between the different stakeholders, as fan clubs can only do so much to improve the match-day experience in the stands.

The Yellow Knights also feels the football clubs and the Football Association of Singapore must step up to improve the overall brand of Singapore football – be it merchandising, the quality of the fields, or match officiating.

The Tampines Rover’s management maintains an open dialogue with the fan club. Such transparency and mutual respect breed confidence and trust between the football team’s administrators and fans.

The club management also makes it a point to engage with the supporters before, and after a game. The Yellow Knights appreciates such a gesture and this, in turn, fuels them to cheer more for the team.

This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.