S-League not youth training ground

The Football Association of Singapore's (FAS') move to prioritise youth football development to rejuvenate and raise football standards is a positive one.

However, in pursuing this objective, the FAS has introduced unprecedented four sets of rules for clubs participating in the S-League, and compelled them to field at least three under-23 players and a minimum of eight under-30 players in any S-League match (DPMM won't exit S-League; Dec 30). This ruling also reduces the number of over-30 players to only one slot in a team, should the maximum two foreign players be included.

Youth are not going to be attracted to professional football if they think they are going to be discarded at the age of 30.

It appears the FAS has gone overboard with their rules. A country's professional football league should be an evenly contested competition, showcasing the best football talent in the country regardless of age, so that it will inspire, excite and attract fans.

It is misguided to expect the S-League competition to be a development platform for youth.

Surely there are other ways and means to motivate and reward S-League clubs to develop these youth to senior levels.

Would it not be better to use merit rather than rules like enforcing the fielding of a minimum of three under-23 players in every competition, who may not be ready to perform?

The S-League is a professional league, not a training stint for young potential footballers.

It should be a competition played at the highest level in the country.

It is reflective of a nation's football standard and the competence of its ruling football authority, and a country's national team can only be as good as its national league.

George Pasqual

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 13, 2018, with the headline 'S-League not youth training ground'. Print Edition | Subscribe