New overseas scholarship for teenage footballers to be introduced under Unleash The Roar
Youth tournament Lion City Cup, last held in 2015, is slated to make a return this year under Unleash The Roar.
New initiatives, including a new scholarship to send young footballers overseas to help strengthen the youth development, will be introduced under the Unleash The Roar project (UTR).
This was announced by Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Culture, Community and Youth Eric Chua, in a podcast interview with The Straits Times that was released on Wednesday (Apr 12).
“We want to send our best boys and girls overseas to train daily in a competitive environment that you can’t find here in Singapore. It’s something that has never been done before in Singapore’s football history, and we’re eagerly looking forward to it,” said Mr Chua in the podcast.
Mr Chua, who is also chief of Unleash The Roar, also said that the project could take up to eight years for results to bear fruit.
“We are not trying to cook instant noodles. We are trying to make a double-boiled tonic soup. It takes time for talent and the UTR pipeline to really shine through,” he added.
It is hoped that these initiatives will help reinvigorate the Singapore football scene, which hasn’t enjoyed the best of results in recent times.
The Singapore national men’s football team were knocked out of the AFF Mitsubishi Electric Cup, suffering a heavy defeat to rivals Malaysia along the way, while the Under-23 squad failed to progress out of the group stages in the SEA Games for four editions running.
In the Merlion Cup last month, the Singapore Under-22 squad finished last among four teams, losing 2-1 to Cambodia in the third/fourth-placing match.
Starting from this year, the scholarship will enable selected footballers aged between 13 and 16 years old with up to three-year stints with overseas academies. This includes academies across Europe and North America.
Aside from the high-level football training in a competitive environment, these academies also offer quality education.This is to ensure youth footballers can return with academic qualifications that will allow them to continue further studies at tertiary level.
The Lion City Cup, which was last held in 2015, will also return as another of the project’s initiatives. The tournament will be an annual fixture and will also help provide a good indicator of how well the national youth teams are progressing, as it will see them play against international clubs.
Aside from the scholarship and the return of the Lion City Cup, the project will also oversee the development of two pathways, the Participation Pathway and the High Performance Pathway (HPP). The Participation Pathway is for youths playing football at school and academy level.
HPP however, will see selected talents aged between eight and 13 years old train at a new junior development centre, while those aged 13 to 17 will train at the national development centre.
A new scouting team will also be formed to hand pick the best talent, while both centres will be managed by Football Association of Singapore (FAS) technical director Michael Brown.