ANZA Soccer Past
Left: An early Flyers team. The Sailors

Back in 1975, as British troops prepared to withdraw from now-independent Singapore, parents wondered where their children would play soccer once they were gone. The British had sponsored a boys’ soccer league and they knew such sporting opportunities would disappear with the troops. Fathers David Foreman, Frank Wakefield, John King and Gordon Gerachty, who was also ANZA’s chairman, organised a new league from Foreman’s dining room. They secured pitches and insurance, distributed flyers and commissioned goalposts for the younger groups. In January 1976, 33 boys arrived for the first games of the International Junior Soccer League (IJSL).

ANZA Soccer Past
Left: The Warriors. Gordon Vs Bombers in 2012,

Named for the departing forces, the original teams were the Flyers in blue, the Gordons in red, the Sailors in white, and the Warriors in green. Parent volunteers acted as organisers, coaches and referees. Word spread, and the league tripled in size during the first season. The basic format, still used today, was a round-robin league competition followed by a knockout cup tournament. At the end of that season, the organisers decided the league should gain official status. Gerachty suggested asking ANZA to accommodate them, and so IJSL became ANZA-IJSL; over time the name was simplified to ANZA Soccer. Teams were balanced to include different skill levels, schools, and backgrounds, and players remained in teams year-to-year, forming friendships that often endured over time and distance.

Why Gordons? What Warriors?

The original teams were named after the final British forces to leave Singapore in 1976:

  • Flyers for the Royal Air Force, in blue
  • Gordons for the Gordan Highlanders infantry regiment, in red
  • Sailors for the Royal Navy, in white
  • Warriors for the Jungle Warfare School in Johor, in green

Pitch changes & programme growth

In the following decades, changing pitch availability meant the league had to move several times, often helped by the Singapore Sports Council, which recognised ANZA Soccer as a valuable recreational resource for expat families. Pitches at Portsdown Road (pre-AYE), Minden Road, Farrer Road and Loewen Road all hosted ANZA games. The first was remembered as “The Garden of Eden” by some; the last two as “bloody awful, potholed and waterlogged” by long-time volunteer Gina Kubal. In the 2000s, ANZA Soccer settled at Turf City on the pitches now used for cricket. After a redevelopment in early 2012, everyone was reunited at our current all-weather pitches, where we’ve remained since.

ANZA Then and Now

Founding volunteers David and Elsie Foreman returned for a visit in 2017 and were amazed to see how ANZA Soccer had grown, from a few dozen boys in 1976 to over 800 players each Saturday. They were especially excited to see our thriving girls’ programme, with David commenting that “this is a fantastic development, and they certainly look like they can hold their own!” They also recognised how little had changed: a Saturday league where all play, original team names and colours (now supplemented with many others), an emphasis on “fair play” and “friends play,” a reliance on parent volunteers, and a focus on fun and fitness through sport.

Turf Club in the past
The Singapore Turf Club in 1965. The area where we now play hosted horse racing from 1933 to 1999. Photo by: Peter D. Huggett & Colin Philips

Tuft City: Our Pitch With A Past

We play in a historic location. Turf City owes its unique layout to the fact that it used to be the premier horse racing venue on the island. Today the narrow road to our pitches traces the curve of the old race track. In 1933, the Singapore Turf Club moved from Farrer Road to a larger facility in a less crowded area. The nearby Bukit Timah Railway Station, now a conserved building on the Rail Corridor, also meant that horses could be moved to other locations on the racing circuit.

Races ceased in October 1941, with first British and then Japanese troops using the area. The buildings may have housed hospital activities and prisoners of war, and food crops were grown on open spaces. Racing resumed in 1947, but increasing population pressure and traffic jams on race days led to the development of a new race course in Kranji in 1999. The area’s horsey heritage can still be seen in the riding activities available near our pitches.

Season 46 in the bag!

ANZA Soccer early days
Left: 2015: U9 SEA Cup. April 2019 U16 JSSL 7s Game 1 vs Gold Coast
ANZA Soccer
Left: 2015: U9 SEA Cup. April 2019 U16 JSSL 7s Game 1 vs Gold Coast

The Covid-19 pandemic stressed our programme, along with so much else in Singapore and the world. Through it all, our enthusiastic volunteers, dedicated professional coaches, and above all our eager players made it worthwhile. Having ended our 46th season with a return to “real” games, league competitions, competition team action, and Awards Day, we look forward to a new season filled with all that makes ANZA Soccer so special: fun for all, great competition, and a family-centered environment that creates friends for life.

ANZA Soccer today
2022: Parent volunteers in May 2022