Youth react to the possible reduction in Singapore Premier League Under-23 rule

Local football fans we spoke to had mixed feelings about the potential change in U23 rules in the Singapore Premier League.

Shane Dawson

Published: 6 September 2021, 5:53 PM

From next season, the Singapore Premier League may see just one under-23 player starting, instead of the current three. 

According to The Straits Times, a rule change is currently in the works. Both Singapore head coach Tatsuma Yoshida and captain Hariss Harun were reported to be open to the idea of reducing the Under-23 quota.

The current rule was put in place in 2018 to encourage the development and integration of young local players into professional football. 

 We spoke to some youths to hear their thoughts on the possibility of U23 rule change.

Allows young players to fight for their spot

“I think that this new ruling will allow young players to fight for their place instead of playing before they are ready. Currently, teams are playing these youngsters solely because of the requirement. However, it is apparent that many of these young players are not good enough to play professionally and this hinders the team’s performance.

“Changing the ruling to require clubs to start only one young player would allow young players to fight for their spots instead, and this would in turn result in the Singapore Premier League becoming more competitive.” Daniel Ryan Tay, 19, Balestier Khalsa supporter


Rusyaidi Salime (left, in blue and white) is one of the under-23 players who has played regularly in the SPL this year. PHOTO CREDIT: SINGAPORE PREMIER LEAGUE

Allows more experienced, better players to play

“If the new rule takes place, this will allow older players to step up. I feel that with this new ruling, teams would not feel inclined to play youth players at the expense of older but better footballers. Some youth players may not be good enough to play in the Singapore Premier League(SPL). 

However, teams are playing those youth players due to the ruling. By changing the ruling, this gives clubs the choice to pick their squad based on their abilities. I think that the Singapore Premier League (SPL) would be more competitive after this ruling is put in place.” Hakim Jalil, 22, Singapore football observer

Increases the performance on the global stage

“I feel that by changing the ruling, this would mean fewer young players would be called up for the national team. But in hindsight, it would also mean that young players who aren’t ready won’t be forced to play. That, in turn, means that players who would be called up to the national team will have the quality and experience to improve Singapore’s performance on the global stage. 

“The older, but more experienced players will definitely perform better against opposition of higher quality.” –  Zacchaeus Gibson, 19, Lion City Sailors fan


Some fans feel that a reduction in the U23 quota will allow experienced players to shine and make the SPL more competitive. PHOTO CREDIT: SINGAPORE PREMIER LEAGUE

Allow teams to import more foreign players

“Perhaps apart from this new ruling, we should also allow clubs to add an additional spot to import foreign players as well. This can improve the overall quality and competition of the Singapore Premier League (SPL). 

“By bringing in more foreign players from Europe for example, this improves the overall standard of football in Singapore as young players can gain more exposure to playing with and against better and more experienced players. On top of that, the senior players would be challenged for their spot from these foreigners.

“As the saying goes, “iron sharpens iron”. If this new ruling allows more foreign players to be imported, this could in turn improve the quality of football in Singapore.” Jared Wong, 19, Singapore football observer

Hindering the growth of young players

“I think that this ruling definitely prevents young players from playing at the professional stage on a regular basis. For example, I feel like the system is effective in finding players such as Jacob Mahler, Khairin Nadim and Ilhan Fandi. These are the gems coming through the system.

“Even though this may hinder teams performance against tougher opponents, this would definitely have a positive outcome in the future as these young players can gain exposure and experience.” Jonathan Lee, 19, Young Lions fan

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