Youth development key to S'pore's football hopes

Youths playing football in Singapore.
Youths playing football in Singapore.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

It is heartening to read that new national football coach Tatsuma Yoshida views the Under-22 team as critical to the long-term objectives of the national team (I believe in the Lions: Yoshida, May 31).

Yoshida also has the youth development expertise to boot, having produced stars such as French Ligue 1 side Olympique de Marseille's Japanese defender Hiroki Sakai.

One would be hard-pressed to disagree with Yoshida's views on the importance of youth development.

For instance, Spanish La Liga side Valencia, owned by Singaporean billionaire Peter Lim, have seen their focus on youth development pay huge dividends (Valencia bank on youth, March 12).

Valencia was recently crowned Spanish Cup champions, and will also be playing in next season's elite Uefa Champions League after finishing a commendable fourth in their latest Spanish La Liga campaign.

A case study interview conducted by Harvard Business School professor Anita Elberse with legendary ex-Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson on his leadership methods and management principles is also insightful.

When he was queried on his unconventional bet back in the day on developing the club's youth team - which included future stars like Ryan Giggs and David Beckham - to bring success to the club, Ferguson said: "If you give young people your attention and an opportunity to succeed, it is amazing how much they will surprise you."

Youth development is imperative to develop a strong foundation and steady pipeline of local football talent.

As Yoshida has articulated, the Lions, the Football Association of Singapore and the fans are all one - there is hope yet for Singapore to become Asean football kingpins.

Woon Wee Min

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 03, 2019, with the headline 'Youth development key to S'pore's football hopes'. Print Edition | Subscribe