SINGAPORE: The Government will launch a national project for football to create opportunities for young Singaporeans to train and potentially go professional, said Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong on Monday (Mar 8).
“Football is a sport with mass appeal. It is the most participated team sport in Singapore, bringing together Singaporeans from all walks of life. A national team that can perform at the highest levels affirms Singapore’s multiple pathways of success, and is a source of national pride,” he said.
“Our football is not quite where we would like it to be. We can do more, we can do better to bring back the Kallang Roar, and give our young Lions every opportunity to pursue their dreams,” Mr Tong added during his ministry’s Committee of Supply debate in Parliament.
The Ministry for Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY), Sports Singapore (SportSG) and the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) will introduce the football programme in phases.
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The first phase will ensure that footballers have the “right conditions” to excel, laying the foundation for Singapore’s football team across age groups to be more competitive on regional and international stages, said MCCY in a factsheet.
FAS will establish a standardised National Football Curriculum for football co-curricular activities (CCA) in primary schools. About 2,000 boys per primary school cohort will learn football techniques and tactics under this curriculum, said Parliamentary Secretary for Culture, Community and Youth Eric Chua.
He added that it would be an “inclusive vision” involving girls, as MCCY wants to grow participation for women’s football as well.
FAS will also increase the number of qualified football coaches in schools, aiming to have all school coaches attain at least the Asian Football Confederation ‘C’ Licence.
All public and private football clubs and academies, as well as schools, will have access to the curriculum.
“We want to encourage a nationwide adoption of the revised curriculum to raise the standards of our footballers,” said MCCY.
Meanwhile, selected secondary schools will have football academies with enhanced coaching support. FAS will organise an elite youth league, in addition to the current school games, to provide more opportunities for youths of different ability levels to compete in.
Talented students outside the academies will be scouted for the ActiveSG Football Academy Development Centres to give them similar levels of training support and competition exposure, said Mr Chua.
OVERSEAS OPPORTUNITIES AND NATIONAL SERVICE
Top local youth footballers wishing to pursue a professional career in the sport will be given local and overseas scholarships, said Mr Chua.
FAS is also exploring partnerships with overseas football institutions such as La Liga, Bundesliga Club Borussia Dortmund and Australian colleges such as Maribyrnong College.
Locally, FAS is working with clubs such as the Lion City Sailors to provide similar opportunities.
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“Developing young footballers while supporting their academic development will provide assurance to youths and their parents that there is a viable pathway to pursuing football professionally,” said MCCY in a factsheet.
Together with the Ministry of Defence, MCCY is looking into supporting eligible footballers through early enlistment, leave and time off for full-time National Servicemen to train and opportunities to train and play at top levels while fulfilling their National Service obligations.
COACHING QUALITY, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY AND INFRASTRUCTURE
To raise the quality of coaches, all coaches and personnel will be trained to teach the National Football Curriculum.
SportSG and FAS will establish scouting and talent identification networks locally and overseas and proactively link up local football talents with overseas clubs to provide them with “high-quality developmental opportunities”, said MCCY.
A nationwide athlete monitoring database system will centrally track the development pathways of all footballers in the local ecosystem. It will operate alongside a new Football High Performance Centre, said Mr Chua.
In addition, SportSG will enhance existing infrastructure and maximise playable spaces so that more people can play more often.
But the national project needs one more ingredient for success, said Mr Tong.
“It has to be all of us, working together, united, pulling in the same direction, for this project to have a chance. Uplifting Singapore football is a national project, and I encourage all of us to rally around our common goal.”