Young trio get taste of Japan

(From left) National Under-14 squad footballers Hamizan Hisham, Elijah Lim and Nur Adam Abdullah. Their stint comes under a three-year deal between the FAS and Epson, which sponsors Yamaga.
(From left) National Under-14 squad footballers Hamizan Hisham, Elijah Lim and Nur Adam Abdullah. Their stint comes under a three-year deal between the FAS and Epson, which sponsors Yamaga.PHOTO: FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION OF SINGAPORE

U-14 players on week-long training stint with new J-League side Yamaga

LIKE many budding footballers, Elijah Lim, 14, harbours hopes of playing professionally in a big league.

And despite growing up on a steady diet of English Premier League football, the Manchester United fan is pragmatic enough to know his future lies further south of England's footballing pastures.

Said the Singapore Sports School student: "Playing in Japan or Australia will be more realistic. My aim is to play in Japan, because of their style of football, which is more possession-based."

From today, Elijah will get a taste of what it means to play in Asia's second-ranked nation.

The midfielder is one of three national Under-14 players selected for a training stint with Matsumoto Yamaga, who are in their first J-League season and lie 14th among the top tier's 18 teams.

The trip starts today and ends on Sunday.

Joining him are fellow U-14 players Muhammad Nur Adam Abdullah and Mohamad Hamizan Mohamad Hisham.

Said Elijah: "I'm excited. It's a great opportunity to improve myself as a footballer.

"I hope to do well so that scouts will notice me, and after school and national service, I can train overseas and become a professional footballer."

Besides training with the club's youth team, the trio will also attend Yamaga's J-League clash against Shonan Bellmare at the club's 20,396-seat Alwin Stadium on Saturday.

The deal is part of Epson Singapore's three-year sponsorship deal with the Football Association of Singapore, worth around $1 million and inked in August 2013. Epson has been a sponsor of Yamaga since 2005.

Said Tan May Lin, Epson Singapore (sales division) general manager: "Epson is happy to play its part in providing the best resources possible to groom Singapore's future football stars.

"We hope that our youths will be motivated to pick up tactical tips and aspire towards being the best in the field."

This is not the first time the FAS has sent footballers on overseas training stints.

In January, the local football body arranged for defender Safuwan Baharudin to join Australian top-tier outfit Melbourne City's training camp in Abu Dhabi.

The LionsXII defender impressed Melbourne's coaches and eventually joined them on a three-month loan deal.

Other beneficiaries include Hariss Harun, who joined Chinese Super League football club Shanghai Shenhua on a 10-day trial in 2010, and Adam Swandi, who went on training stints in England and Spain, before joining French club Metz on a two-year deal in 2013.

siangyee@sph.com.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 22, 2015, with the headline 'YOUNG TRIO GET TASTE OF JAPAN'. Print Edition | Subscribe