Think out of the box, move football forward

Think out of the box, move football forward

The Football Association of Singapore's (FAS) plan to get more schoolchildren to play football regularly lacks the killer touch to transform the Lions into a competitive force against the best teams in Asia, let alone the world ("FAS acts to get more kids playing football"; Oct 12).

Football and sports in general are seen as extra-curricular activities and not a serious profession in a city-state with many other distractions for children. For the game to make any headway here, the authorities must raise its professionalism, quality and prestige.

The Singapore Sports School is a good baby step to nurture our children's sporting abilities and assure their parents about the value of the industry. The next step is to treat football and other core national sports as skills that can be monetised.

Attract the world's best youth football academies to partner our sports school in this venture.

Selected students will learn how to apply the best footballing philosophies, including Dutch "total football", Spanish "tiki-taka" and Italian "catenaccio", with intelligence in game-play and in life, while harnessing the right attitude towards skills development, and eating and living well.

In short, teach our aspiring footballers and future trainers and administrators how to be true professionals in mind, body, spirit and discipline from a young age.

The main goal is to produce Singaporeans who can ply their skills in the major European leagues. Those who cannot make it to Europe will still have a chance here as players or in other roles in the industry.

Instead of a biennial Suzuki Cup, how about an annual tournament played in the league format? And instead of persisting with our sub-standard local leagues, how about working with Malaysia and Brunei to create a tournament modelled after the National Basketball Association - which comprises sides from the United States and Canada - for club football?

Young and promising foreign players may be recruited for our clubs - limited to three players each - and they could potentially become our national players.

Our talent pool and financial resources are too modest to be spread across the S-League, Prime League, Malaysian Super League and ASEAN Super League.

The onus is on the FAS to think out of its defensive penalty box and move the game forward with some style, technique, pace and substance.

Toh Cheng Seong

This article was first published on Oct 26, 2014.
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