Ensure local footballers get to play and improve

Singapore has spared no effort to attract highly qualified foreign talent to make up for skill shortages in our country over the past decade. These foreign workers are meant to complement the local workforce by filling the labour gap and facilitating the transfer of skills to locals.

The S-League is no different. A demand for sporting talent has led S-League clubs to look for talented foreign professional footballers to strengthen their teams.

For our footballers to learn from their foreign teammates, the quality of the foreign signings must be significantly higher. But our present crop of overseas talent is only marginally better than the locals.

Our home-grown talent has been withering on the vine. Our locals can improve by constantly competing for a place in the starting line-up, but not all can get a game every week for their clubs, as the presence of foreign players leaves them marginalised. Hence, many of our young players may just give up playing full time, leading to an ever-decreasing pool of local talent for the national team.

Our clubs need to be financially stronger to attract better-quality foreign signings, and to make a career in football a viable option for locals, thereby lifting the overall standard of the S-League.

Edmund Khoo Kim Hock

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 03, 2016, with the headline 'Ensure local footballers get to play and improve'. Print Edition | Subscribe