Plans to strengthen S'pore football at all levels

We thank Mr Darrell Low Wen Wei for his letter ("Lessons we can learn from Icelandic football"; June 25).

As one of Singapore's most popular sports, football brings together people from all walks of life. We share Mr Low's hope of seeing more Singapore football stars that the nation can rally behind.

Among the key initiatives which have been launched is the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) Cubs Grassroots programme for children aged six to 12. There are now around 3,500 children in the programme, which emphasises fun and inculcates lifelong values such as teamwork, respect and discipline.

Promising players can then proceed to our player development pathway consisting of the Junior Centre of Excellence, Centre of Excellence (COE) and National Football Academy programmes to hone their skills.

We appreciate Mr Low's support for technical director Michel Sablon's enhanced football development plan. It is a comprehensive plan which, among other things, highlights the need for more infrastructure to further develop Singapore football.

Like any other country in the world, we need infrastructure for our footballers to undergo the training required to achieve excellence. We are in discussions with our partners on the goal of establishing a National Training Centre which will, among other benefits, allow us to increase the amount of training and coaching time for our players.

Changes to other parts of the youth development structure have also been made.

The Goalkeeper Academy Singapore was introduced to educate Singapore's young goalkeepers, aged 10 to 16, on the modern vision of goalkeeping, while the school and COE competitions have been aligned.

From this year, the COE Under-15 competition will include four School Football Academy teams representing the North, South, East and West zones. We are also in discussions with our partners to implement key changes to the school competitions. The aim of all these changes is to strengthen youth development through more coaching and higher-quality matches.

As part of our ongoing plans to strengthen domestic football at all levels, the National Football League and Island Wide League were restructured this year, with more emphasis placed on developmental objectives like fitness.

With these changes, they will continue to provide a solid base for our footballing pyramid by giving young players competitive opportunities.

We are grateful for the continued support of fans like Mr Low and remain committed to creating a vibrant football culture in Singapore which will, among other things, enhance social bonding.

Yazeen Buhari

Head, Development & Planning Football Association of Singapore

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 06, 2016, with the headline 'Plans to strengthen S'pore football at all levels'. Print Edition | Subscribe