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Don't blame Sundram; let's groom football at grassroots and youth levels

V. Sundram Moorthy is not a magician and cannot work miracles. It's not fair to blame Sundram for the sorry state of football in Singapore (Sundram: Stay or go?; If Sundram can't motivate Lions, then it's time to go; both published on Nov 19).

He has only a limited pool of players to work with - a result of the neglect of youth development for several years at the grassroots level.

The majority of players were just not good enough to perform on the biggest stage and lacked the burning desire and pride to represent their country.

Disband the present squad and start afresh.

Sundram's contract expires in 2019. Let's honour it and give him a chance to rebuild a squad with youngsters.

The previous Football Association of Singapore (FAS) regime should shoulder the bulk of the blame for its failure to emphasise the importance of youth development.

In the 1970s, Singapore used to have inter-school football tournaments at primary, secondary and post-secondary levels. We also had Milo and Nestle football schools that unearthed several great players such as Fandi Ahmad, and even Sundram himself.

There was also the Lion City Cup Under-16 tournament - a tournament that gave exposure to our youngsters to exhibit their talent at national level.

Youth development is a long-term project.

That said, let Sundram work with FAS technical director Michel Sablon and assemble a young team for the future. Results don't matter if we have a young and dedicated team willing to learn and work hard. The FAS could look into these pointers and help groom football at the grassroots and youth levels.

A. Thiyaga Raju

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 26, 2017, with the headline 'Don't blame Sundram; let's groom football at grassroots and youth levels'. Print Edition | Subscribe