SINGAPORE - The first team at Singapore Premier League (SPL) leaders Lion City Sailors are focused on claiming a second consecutive league title, but the club have been busy off it as well.
The Republic's only privatised football club recently announced landmark collaborations for both its youth players as well as its professionals to aid their personal development.
For the club's youngsters, a scholarship, unveiled on Friday, will allow them to match their football progress with academic advancement at St Joseph's Institution (SJI) International.
The SJI International-Lion City Sailors Elite Development Scholarship is made possible by an unspecified donation from Sea, the company owned by Sailors' billionaire chairman Forrest Li, with the first batch of scholars set to enrol in January. The programme also includes opportunity for selected scholars to take up early enlistment for National Service.
SJI International chairman Roy Quek said: "This will add scale and diversity to our existing scholarship programmes as we seek to provide deserving students the opportunity to be part of the SJI International community of learning, service and excellence."
Li added: "SJI International shares our belief that sporting endeavour can go hand in hand with academic success, and we are honoured to partner with them on this initiative."
On Monday, the Sailors' first team stars took part in a financial literacy workshop with SGX Cares - the outreach volunteering initiative of the Singapore Exchange (SGX) - after a morning training session at the club's newly-opened training centre at Mattar Road. It was the first in a series of workshops lined up for them on the topic, and covered the basics of financial planning and investing.
"Financial literacy is one of the key pillars of SGX Cares and it is something we feel is necessary to help empower individuals to take charge of their future. We also understand the needs of these professional footballers who may have a short career on the football pitch," said SGX head of research Chan Kum Kong.
He added that SGX Cares has also conducted similar workshops with about 200 national athletes over the last "1½ to two years" through the Singapore Sport Institute, the Republic's high-performance support set-up.
Sailors captain Hariss Harun, 31, who is also skipper of the national team, said: "It was a fruitful session and something that we need, because I have been in football for a number of years and I have seen players before me in not such a good (financial) situations... These workshops can help players plan for their career (post-playing)."