FAS committed to developing local players

FAS committed to developing local players
Shahril Ishak (left).

We thank Mr Christopher Chong for his letter ("Invest more in local sportsmen"; Monday).

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 make-up.

We would like to point out, with pride, that our current national team players are all local, young and promising, and can only get better.

We expect to go to the ASEAN Football Federation Cup this December with a squad made up of local-born players.

The development of local-born players will always be a key focus of the FAS and a key pillar of our strategic plan.

We have a player developmental pathway in place, beginning with the Junior Centre of Excellence to the National Football Academy teams, the Courts Young Lions in the S.League, the LionsXII in the Malaysian Super League (MSL) and the senior national team.

Our system is producing encouraging results: The NFA U18 team is second in the U-23 Prime League, while the LionsXII won the 2013 MSL title despite being made up mostly of players aged 23 and below, and with no foreign players.

National players who went through this pathway include captain Shahril Ishak, vice-captain Hariss Harun and goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud. The latter two also received support from Sport Singapore for overseas training.

Our youth development programmes have been praised by international experts including Fifa senior manager of development David Borja and Austrian Football Association technical director Willi Ruttensteiner.

However, while our focus is on developing local-born players, we will not close the door on naturalised players.

But we will be selective and hire them only if we are convinced they are committed, can help the local players get better and raise standards in the national team.

Gerard Wong
Director, Marketing & Communications
Football Association of Singapore

This article was first published on JUNE 20, 2014.
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