Football is 12-year-old Aloysius Pang's passion, but because his primary school does not offer the sport as a co-curricular activity (CCA), he has to look further afield.
He said: "In my current school, there's no football and I can only aim to play for the school team next year when I go to secondary school. I enrolled in the International Soccer Academy last year because I still wanted to play football."
The defender also enrolled in the ActiveSG Football Academy at Queenstown Stadium last month. When it was announced yesterday that the academy will now include 13- to 16-year-olds from next week, Aloysius rejoiced.
Previously, only participants aged six to 12 could enrol in the academy. Aloysius, who turns 13 next March, said: "I'm very happy (about the age-group expansion). Even though I'm already in another academy, I would love to join the ActiveSG programme again to learn more.
"The more training sessions I go for, the better I'll be. The ActiveSG coaches are all right and they consider my personality also. It doesn't matter who you are, they'll just train you and I like that."
Academy principal and former Singapore international Aleksandar Duric explained the rationale behind the expansion: "I realise there are a lot of kids aged 13 to 16 who get lost in the gap.
"I'm here to give them an opportunity and trust me, I'll teach them to play. I'd also like our current kids (in the 12-year-old group) to continue in the programme and stay with us for longer."
He was speaking on the sidelines of a friendly football tournament - attended by 312 kids - yesterday to mark the conclusion of the first academy programme at Serangoon Stadium.
Edwin Pang, Aloysius' father, welcomed the new set-up. "When Aloysius goes to secondary school next year, he'll be much more independent because he won't need his parents to take him around (to training sessions). It is nice to see ActiveSG introduce this initiative to target kids like him and take this opportunity to develop talent."
Another budding footballer buzzing over the age-group expansion is 12-year-old B.K. Harieshvaran. The Delhi Public School (International) captain and striker said: "The agility courses helped me improve my speed. It's good news that I can continue to stay on in the programme when I am older because it will benefit me in a lot of ways."
The next junior programme will begin on Saturday and will span 10 weeks during the school term, comprising 28 sessions.
•For more information, visit https://www.myactivesg.com/start-out/children-youth/academy/football