After spending 15 years leading the front lines of S-League clubs and the Singapore national team, retired striker Aleksandar Duric will be spearheading a new football project this year.
The 45-year-old will be the principal of a new academy set up by ActiveSG, the national movement for sport by Sport Singapore.
The eight-time S-League champion will be in charge of assembling and managing a team of partners and coaches to deliver the academy's programmes.
Said the Bosnian-born player: "I am very grateful and thankful to be... doing something that I love and that is football.
"I'm looking forward to try and improve football in Singapore, especially in youths, and to get them more engaged in both sports and football."
They need to be family-oriented and set good examples for the kids.
ALEKSANDAR DURIC, on the qualities he seeks in hiring coaches for his academy.
With Duric at the helm, the academy aims to provide greater access and opportunities to primary schoolchildren who are interested in football. Operations will begin at five different ActiveSG centres around the island in the coming months.
It will also complement the existing youth football developmental programmes, and will be adopting the Football Association of Singapore's (FAS) grassroots manual and coach education system.
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He is the best person to share and pass down his experience and commitment to Singapore.
LIM TECK YIN, SportSG CEO, on Duric's role.
SportSG's chief executive officer, Lim Teck Yin, believes that the former footballer is the right man for the job.
"Duric's long-time involvement in elite sport testifies to the indomitable spirit that has enabled him to sustain himself and succeed," he said.
"He is the best person to share and pass down his experience and commitment to Singapore."
Nevertheless, when Duric officially assumes his new role tomorrow, he will face plenty of challenges - not least of all hiring the right coaches.
Said the father of three: "Coaches are the most important when it comes to teaching because they are the ones working closely with the kids and it is important that they have quality in both football and character. They need to be family-oriented and set good examples for the kids."
The three-time S-League Footballer of the Year plans to adopt a hands-on approach in hiring the academy coaches.
"There will be a strict criteria for the coaches to adhere to, and I will also be around to meet them during the selection process," he said. "We will also work closely with FAS and their technical directors to tap into their existing pool of coaches."
Yesterday, Duric was at Ngee Ann City's Books Kinokuniya for his other big project: His autobiography Beyond Borders, in which he recounts his journey from being a Balkans War refugee to a record-breaking footballer.
"It's about growing up with a very tough childhood and being who I am today," said Duric, who spent about two hours signing his books.
"I want to show people that if you want to go far, you need to sacrifice a lot of hard work, a lot of desire and I hope that people will see that everything is possible. You just need lot of belief in yourself ."
- Beyond Borders, priced at $25, is available at all major bookstores.