Thursday, July 21, 2011

Etoile Football Club and Etoile Ultras

Ever since the Singapore League (S-League) accepted foreign clubs into the league system in 2003, with the inclusion of Chinese Team Sinchi FC, the love-hate affair of foreign clubs were evident for all to see. However, the inclusion of the foreign teams was not seen as a notable threat to any local clubs, except in 2004 when Albirex Niigata (S) FC won their first 6 matches, until Etoile FC joined the rungs in 2010, when fans started to question foreign clubs in the S-League.

Contribution of Etoile FC to Local Football
Many a times, when fans talk about football, the first question that springs up to mind is the contribution of a club in the League. Etoile FC had, over 1.5 years, gave fans a different glimpse of football from its supporters to the playing style, and more recently, players to other rival teams.

Etoile Ultras was formed in 2010, just after the announcement of Etoile FC's inclusion into the S-League. Led by a '25-year' Ultras in the form of Pierre, the Ultras became the first fan club in the League not to rely on drums or 'standard template' cheers to support their team. The unique feature of the fan club, and even till now, is the ability to mix expats with locals.

Etoile FC's attacking football caught the eye of many spectators and this attacking flair culminated into the team's first trophy in the Singapore League Cup. Despite going down to a goal, the Stars continuous attacking impetus saw their opponents eventually being over-ran by the team that would go on to lift the S-League trophy at the end of the 2010 season.

And unlike Albirex Niigata (S) FC, the French team do not place in its roster, university student or amateur players. The team is made up of entirely professional players who have ply their trade in different parts of Europe. Perhaps, the success of Etoile FC had spurred on Albirex Niigata (S) FC to put in place experienced and professional players into their roster this season.

The 2011 season saw Frederic Mendy, top scorer of S-League 2010, joining Home United. Previously being the subject of fans' abuse and rants, the lanky forward is now the subject of cheers in the terraces. The same could be said of Cyril Bagnost, who is a key player for Tanjong Pagar United FC, and joined the Jaguars mid-way through the season. Another player, Yohann Lacrioux, would be turning out in the Hyundai-sponsored Tampines Rovers season, as a replacement for injured custodian, Hassan Sunny.

Perhaps, being the only foreign club to win the S-League trophy have hit onto the head of many fans, but Etoile FC would not let irresponsible remark derail them from their ultimate goal in participating in the Singapore Football Scene - win trophies!

Ultras' Contribution to S-League
Despite being much maligned by other rival fan club, the Ultras have stand out to be a fan club that sticks by the team that they support through thick and thin. The achievement of the Ultras include, and not limited to:
  • The first fan club to have it's own T-Shirt, Scarves, Club Badges and cheers;
  • The first fan club to raise money for the "Save Japan" movement after the unfortunate earthquake in Japan;
  • The first fan club to defend a fellow fan club when faced with allegations by the press.
  • The first fan club to arrange for the welcome of players from airport and ambassador (Sidney Govou);
  • The first fan club to arrange for interviews, autograph session and training sessions with the players;
  • The first fan club to establish connections with rival S-League clubs (e.g. Woodlands Wellington, Albirex Niigata (S) FC) through series of activities and chatting.
  • The first fan club to 'tweet' an entire game live on @etoilefcfans in the S-League match between Geylang United and Etoile FC at Bedok Stadium;
  • The first fan club to have their own website;
  • The first fan club to have match previews, reviews and features on their own blog.
  • The first fan club to be independent of the football club they support, and is not considered as the Official Fan Club. (The fact that we are independent means that the fans pay for their own tickets to get into the stadium. The fan club members are also not issued with S-League passes by the Club, which would guarantee access to any stadiums in Singapore for S-League matches without paying.)
The Ultras will continue to support the S-League despite being at the receiving end of some abuse lately from fans of rival fan club. We believe that a good football atmosphere is possible, if only immature remarks are not made, and promises made fulfilled.

Allez Etoile, Forza Ultra!

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