Borussia Dortmund and Spanish league LaLiga join as 'strategic partners' in national project to grow Singapore football
SINGAPORE: German football club Borussia Dortmund and Spanish football’s top league LaLiga have joined as “strategic partners” in a national project to grow Singapore football, it was announced on Friday (Nov 19).
Sport Singapore (SportSG) and the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) said in a press release that Dortmund and LaLiga will provide expertise in the areas of youth development, coach development and sports science.
They will also help secure overseas stints for the “brightest and best Singapore talent”.
LaLiga coaches will help helm “key positions” alongside local coaches in 10 newly-launched School Football Academies (SFAs) while Dortmund will lend their expertise and jointly develop a coach development programme with the national project “Unleash the Roar”, said SportSG and FAS.
The partnerships will take immediate effect and will first see LaLiga youth coaches and sports experts take on key roles at the enhanced SFAs by the first quarter of 2022.
“This is a significant step for the ‘Unleash The Roar!’ project. For Singapore football to raise our game to play at the highest level, we must first build a strong foundation,” said Parliamentary Secretary for Culture, Community and Youth Eric Chua.
“The initiatives announced today will not only allow our brightest young talent better access to a higher-level of training and competition on a daily basis, but also pave pathways for them to develop their game at some of the top football institutions overseas.”
Mr Chua will be the chairman of an executive committee for the project.
The committee is made up of 13 members and four co-opted members, and will be responsible for “formulating strategies, planning, developing and supervising” the implementation of the project.
The project was announced by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong in Parliament during his ministry’s Committee of Supply debate earlier this year.
Its implementation will focus on eight "pillars", which involve initiatives such as the FAS establishing a standardised National Football Curriculum for football co-curricular activities (CCA) in primary schools.
“It is important that we begin our UTR! journey with the right partners who understand the value that they bring to the table for this national project to be on strong footing,” said SportSG CEO Lim Teck Yin, who is also a deputy chairman of the executive committee.
“The UTR! project is a collective effort, drawing on the support of the public-private-people sectors to help us achieve our goals. We are fortunate that in the Ministry of Education (MOE), our international partners, and our EXCO, we have found good teammates.”
NEW SCHOOL FOOTBALL ACADEMIES
A "key component" of the project is the development of youth players, said SportSG and FAS.
Ten SFAs across Singapore will start from January next year. The first group of SFA schools include Montfort Secondary School, Queensway Secondary School, St Patrick’s School and Jurongville Secondary School, said SportSG and FAS.
Each of the schools will feature a boys’ SFA and the ‘Unleash the Roar’ project is currently working with MOE to establish SFAs for girls.
The programme will begin with Secondary 1s by 2022 and progressively expand to include all four years in each SFA by 2025.
It is expected that about 1,400 boys and girls will be a part of the programme eventually.
"This is close to triple the 500 boys and girls who are presently receiving elite training at the Under-15 and Under-17 levels," said SportSG and FAS.
A “key component” of the SFA will see the students train four times a week, up from the average of two in most football programmes at secondary schools.
The youths will also play competitively throughout the year, with a tournament planned among SFAs, AFA Development Centres, and "possibly" private football academies from 2023 onwards.
The SFA programme will encompass on-field training, complemented with sports science support, said SportSG and FAS.
All student-athletes in the SFAs will be supported to perform both academically and in football.
“A key component of the UTR! is the development of youth players. The SFAs will play a crucial role in that aspect.
"Their central role is to provide a safe and nurturing environment for talented youths to hone their skills in a structured, high-quality system that allows them to maximise their potential,” said SportSG and FAS.
Each SFA will feature a team of full-time SFA coaches, comprising both LaLiga and local coaches.
They will work closely under the leadership of the FAS technical director and the ActiveSG Football Academy principal to ensure the successful implementation of the programme.
“We designed the SFAs with both students and parents in mind. We want the SFAs to focus on the sporting development and support the academic needs of students so that they have a conducive environment to excel," said FAS deputy president Bernard Tan, who is also a deputy chairman of the executive committee.
"Parents need not worry about shuttling to various locations within a day and can have peace of mind that their child’s needs are better taken care of.
“The SFAs will be a game-changer for football youth development as it almost triples the footballing cohort of youths training at a high level every year.
"This translates to more options for national youth selectors and further downstream, increases the chance of unearthing a rare gem who can excel on a bigger stage.”