Develop skills of primary school players for S'pore football's future

I agree with Mr Ian Morris that our National Football League should not be considered the most basic level of local football (Return to the real grassroots of Singapore football; March 23).

However, I disagree that the genuine grassroots of the game are the weekend recreational footballers.

The lack of technical knowledge and expertise of these amateur players, and most teenagers from schools or club youth systems, does not bode well for the future of the S-League or our national team.

Since many of them are already adults or young adults, they are beyond the developmental stage of their soccer skills.

Hence, the development of players has to start at the primary school level, where training has to be fun yet effective.

Coaches should not be putting too much pressure on children below the age of 12 to win games. However, instructors cannot stand back without instilling in them the basics.

If the football fraternity truly wants to nurture talent to improve the quality of both our clubs and the Lions, coaches must start effectively communicating to players the technical points of the game at the primary school level.

The development of skills - trapping and controlling a ball, spreading the body when receiving it, awareness of the surroundings, the importance of the first touch - is fundamental.

It is not surprising that most S-League clubs are seeking ready-made talent from overseas - it's because these players are more technically proficient, owing to the coaching that they have received since childhood.

If the football fraternity truly wants to nurture talent to improve the quality of both our clubs and the Lions, coaches must start effectively communicating to players the technical points of the game at the primary school level.

Instructors must be able to analyse and pinpoint areas a trainee needs to improve, offer comprehensive feedback and devise a systematic training plan for each player.

The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) must be an organisation that is in touch with what is taking place at the real grassroots level.

The FAS oversees all aspects of the game within its remit as the governing body of soccer in the country.

I hope that, with greater transparency and accountability in the new elected council, the state of the local game does not remain in its current malaise for much longer.

Edmund Khoo Kim Hock

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 27, 2017, with the headline 'Develop skills of primary school players for S'pore football's future'. Print Edition | Subscribe