Football: French Football Federation opens academy in Singapore to groom young talents

French Football Academy Singapore technical director Patrick Vallee gesturing during a training session at the Gems World Academy yesterday.
French Football Academy Singapore technical director Patrick Vallee gesturing during a training session at the Gems World Academy yesterday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

The French football philosophy that produced the likes of Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe, Thierry Henry and Nicholas Anelka and made Les Bleus world champions will now be taught in Singapore, with the French Football Federation (FFF) opening the French Football Academy yesterday.

It is believed that this is the first time the national federation of a football powerhouse has set up such a venture in Singapore.

The academy will be led by a Frenchman familiar to local fans, former Etoile FC coach Patrick Vallee - who led them to the S-League title in 2010. Vallee, 58, will be its technical director and in charge of training the 10 coaches.

At the launch at Gems World Academy in Yishun, he said: "I am very proud to take this position. The element that convinced me was the possibility of working under the aegis of the FFF, representing this institution... recognised worldwide and conveying its positive image in terms of our training.

"The idea is to export not just a name and a logo, but a recognised know-how and to benefit a whole generation of young players from it."

The academy, located at Our Tampines Hub and Gems World Academy, offers up to 500 footballers aged six to 17 training methods from French centres, in particular the famed National Football Institute of Clairefontaine that produced World Cup winner Mbappe, among other elite footballers.

It charges standard fees of $350 for goalkeepers and $500 for outfielders for a once-a-week term, which consists of eight training sessions and four league games. Twice-a-week yearly packages (six terms) that comprise 96 training sessions and 24 league games cost $3,420 for goalkeepers and $4,560 for outfielders.

After the FFF set up a joint office in Beijing and an academy in New York in recent years, a new football school in Singapore represents its desire to expand its global reach.

FFF president Noel le Graet said: "By welcoming young Singaporeans to a new academy, the FFF continues to strengthen its international presence after the opening of a similar centre in New York last year, our office in China, and the continuation of our partnership with Major League Soccer in the United States."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 18, 2020, with the headline 'French flair comes to S'pore'. Subscribe