Scrap Young Lions team in S-League

Most Singaporean football fans would agree with the hard truth that the plan of having the Young Lions play in the S-League for competitive experience has seriously failed to meet expectations (Time to end the Young Lions project; Aug 17).

Currently, no club in the S-League need fear relegation to the second tier for poor performance because of the permanency of their status.

The Lions, therefore, seem to regard their place in the S-League (known as Garena Young Lions) as a given right, and its matches as training sessions rather than a competition to hone their skills and prepare them for international tournaments.

This complacency seems to have anchored them at the foot of the S-League since inception.

Undoubtedly, the S-League has been ineffectual in grooming these Young Lions for international competitions.

The recent failure of our SEA Games squad to get past the Group stage confirms this - the majority of its players came from the Garena Young Lions.

The abject performance is blamed on the lack of physical fitness, tactical awareness, team play and ability to score goals. This is despite year-round exposure to top-level S-League football.

It is time to scrap the Young Lions' S-League team.

A better prospect would be for talented young players from league clubs to play in an annual Football Association of Singapore (FAS) Youth Tournament to gain competitive experience.

The onus has to be on these clubs to scout for and nurture these players. They cannot expect it to be the responsibility of the FAS.

Talented players from these clubs could be called up to undergo centralised training under the FAS to prepare for international tournaments.

The chance to be recognised and given this opportunity will motivate these players to excel, and also boost the club's reputation.

George Pasqual

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 29, 2017, with the headline 'Scrap Young Lions team in S-League'. Print Edition | Subscribe