Academy & Geylang link up at new centre

Geylang captain Isa Halim, head coach at the sixth and newest ActiveSG Football Academy centre at Bedok Stadium, is the only one still playing professionally.
Geylang captain Isa Halim, head coach at the sixth and newest ActiveSG Football Academy centre at Bedok Stadium, is the only one still playing professionally.PHOTO: TIFFANY GOH FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

The ActiveSG Football Academy has expanded to a sixth branch but this time, it will come with a professional sheen to it.

The academy has partnered two-time S-League champions Geylang International for the new venue at Bedok Stadium, its first tie-up with an S-League club.

Eagles captain Isa Halim will serve as head coach at the new centre. Among the academy's six head coaches (Hyrizan Jufri, Robin Chitrakar, Richard Bok, Hairil Amin and Steven Tan), Isa is the only one still playing professionally.

As part of the agreement, Geylang's Young Eagles Soccer (YES) academy will be merged under ActiveSG when the programme officially starts on Sept 17.

Isa previously led the YES academy and his coaching staff at Bedok include Eagles assistant coach Noor Ali, vice-captain Nor Azli and national defender Daniel Bennett.

The partnership was announced yesterday at a football festival organised by the academy. More than 300 kids from the academy's five venues came together to participate in a friendly tournament at the Marina Bay floating platform.

The five other venues are Jurong East Stadium (Hyrizan), Queenstown Stadium (Chitrakar), Serangoon Stadium (Bok), Woodlands Stadium (Hairil) and Kallang Field (Tan).

Sport Singapore chief executive officer Lim Teck Yin said: "(Geylang) have a vision. They're bringing their players to the table to mentor these kids. That's what we're looking for.

"These national athletes can play an important role in nurturing our future generation of athletes, not just because of their skills."

Isa, 30, added: "It's a long road to being a pro footballer and there are many ups and downs. That's where I think our experience and our knowledge will be useful when we share it with the younger players."

While the midfielder did admit he now has to juggle coaching duties alongside his playing commitments, he remains unfazed.

"I will work with my coaches closely to ensure the programme runs smoothly," he said.

•The ActiveSG Football Academy programme is open to those aged six to 16 years old. For details, visit www.myactivesg.com

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 15, 2016, with the headline 'Academy & Geylang link up at new centre'. Print Edition | Subscribe