Football: ActiveSG not undercutting private academies, says SportSG chief

Former national goalkeeper Lionel Lewis, ActiveSG Football Academy principal Aleksandar Duric and Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu at the launch of the progamme on April 2, 2016.
Former national goalkeeper Lionel Lewis, ActiveSG Football Academy principal Aleksandar Duric and Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu at the launch of the progamme on April 2, 2016. PHOTO: CHIN KOK KAI/SPORT SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE - Sport Singapore (SportSG) chief executive officer Lim Teck Yin on Sunday (March 12) defended the ActiveSG Football Academy, amid complaints that its cheaper programmes are causing private football academies here existing and potential customers.

The ActiveSG Football Academy charges $130 for a maximum of 29 sessions. Some private academies can charge up to $40 per session.

Lim said that there will be opportunities to partner these academies in the future. In fact, some prominent academies are already in talks to join forces with SportSG, the local sport governing body.

He also pointed out that several academies are heavily subsidised when booking SportSG facilities for their training sessions.

Lim said: "What we are trying to do is influence the shape of the overall football ecosystem. We have to play to our strengths (i.e. ownership of sporting facilities).

"I'm not saying the private academies should be grateful for the subsidies... but there is an ecosystem out there everyone can be a part of it.

"Everyone has their own perspective and we're listening very carefully to what (the private academies) are saying.

"But my reaction cannot be to raise prices of the programme."

Lim was speaking at a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signing between SportSG and the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) held at Jurong East Stadium.

The MOU will see a merger between two grassroots football initiative - SportSG's ActiveSG Football Academy and the FAS' Cubs Programme. The latter is separate from the FAS' Junior Centres of Excellence, a programme geared towards high performance.

The new entity, called the Active Cubs Programme, is aimed at streamlining current grassroots football programmes and will be run by ActiveSG.

The FAS will provide the coaching syllabus through technical director Michel Sablon's coaching manual. It will also help to identify talented players in the ActiveSG set-up and help them transit to its elite programmes.

Former national striker and ActiveSG Football Academy principal Aleksandar Duric said: "Our first year has been a very successful one. So far, we have more than 600 participants across eight centres in Singapore.

"However, this is just the start and we have to keep improving if we are to produce the young and talented players needed for Singapore football to thrive in the future. We look forward to teaming up with Sablon to enhance the current programme."

With ActiveSG bearing the burden of organising grassroots football, FAS will focus more on improving the quality of local coaches.

Sablon said: "We have been organising many grassroots coaching courses over the past two years, and I am happy to see the positive response so far.

"I encourage all coaches, including those from the private academies, to join our training courses to improve and provide quality coaching in accordance with the playing style and philosophy that FAS hopes to develop in all our local youth players to move Singapore football forward."