Convert Young Lions to NS team

Football Association of Singapore can evolve this project into a national one by converting the Young Lions team into a national service team.
Football Association of Singapore can evolve this project into a national one by converting the Young Lions team into a national service team.PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN

Last year marked a major revamp of the Singapore Premier League (SPL) with six local clubs having to recruit at least six Under-23 footballers for their squad, and a minimum of three Under-23 players to feature in the starting 11 for each match.

While there had been many calls for the Young Lions to be scrapped, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) will likely continue with this project till the 2019 Sea Games at least.

I believe FAS can evolve this project into a national one by converting the Young Lions team into a national service team.

As the name suggests, it should be only for Singaporean players serving NS.

Before 1996, the SAF Sports Association (Safsa) football team and the Singapore Police Force football team had players serving NS in the football league.

With the inception of the Republic's professional football league in 1996, it seems this scheme was removed.

With our shrinking population, perhaps FAS could work with SAF and the Home Team to establish a scheme that allows full-time national servicemen to serve NS and, at the same time, play in the league for an NS team.

These NSFs will need to serve at least three months of basic military training before they are allowed to play for the NS team.

There should be an upper and lower limit for the number of players allowed from SAF and Home Team to prevent any abuse of the system.

The objective of this scheme would be to bridge the two-year gap so that our national team will have a constant supply of local football talent.

If there is a shortfall in talent in the SPL, FAS could allow up to three local national team senior players or foreign players to be in the team.

The NSFs who have completed their term of service during the SPL season should be allowed to play till the end of the season too.

This project could potentially increase the pool of Singaporeans who may want to play football professionally.

Ivan Goh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 04, 2019, with the headline 'Convert Young Lions to NS team'. Print Edition | Subscribe