FAS' Reply To Forum Letter Dated 16 June, titled "Invest more in local sportsmen"
We thank Mr Christopher Chong for his letter published on 16 June 2014 in The Straits Times Forum pages, “Invest more in local sportsmen”.
The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) is happy to see that he and many other Singaporeans are passionate about the national football team and its makeup. We would like to point out, with pride, that our current national team is all-local, young and promising, and can only get better.
This, however, does not mean we will close the door on having naturalised players in our teams. We will consider doing so only if we are convinced they can raise standards in any gap in the national team. Their potential selection must also be considered holistically, with the progress of our own young talents in mind. We expect to go to the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Cup this December with a squad made up completely of local-born players.
The development of our own local-born players will always be a key focus of the FAS. It is also a key pillar of our Strategic Plan.
We have a player developmental pathway in place, beginning with the Junior Centre of Excellence (JCOE), to the National Football Academy (NFA) teams, the Courts Young Lions in the S.League, the LionsXII in the Malaysian Super League (MSL), and finally the senior national team.
Our system is producing encouraging results: the NFA U18 team is second in the U23 Prime League, while the LionsXII won the 2013 MSL title despite being made up predominantly of players aged 23 and below, and not having any foreign players.
Several national players who went through this development pathway include captain Shahril Ishak, vice-captain Hariss Harun, and Izwan Mahbud. The latter two also received support from Sport Singapore for overseas training to maximise their potential.
The Centres of Excellence (COE) leagues were streamlined and improved in February to have fewer teams, thus better utilising resources. Teams from three S.League clubs compete with NFA sides in U13, U14, U16 and U18 leagues to ensure competitive games for our young footballers at every stage.
Our youth development programmes have also been praised by international experts including FIFA Senior Manager of Development David Borja and Austrian Football Association Technical Director Willi Ruttensteiner.
While we are humbled by these endorsements, we will continue working hard to bring more corporate sponsors on board as funding is essential to help us fulfil our Strategic Plan objectives.
Once again, we thank Mr Chong for his feedback, and look forward to his continued passionate support for Singapore football.
Director, Marketing & Communication
Football Association of Singapore