Fewer centres, better training for football talent

Fewer centres, better training for football talent
Young talents from the Tampines Rovers Centre of Excellence (COE) training at the Tampines Stadium.

Plans are under way to improve Singapore's pool of football talent through a revamp of the 13-year-old Centre of Excellence (COE) scheme.

The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) will reduce the number of centres from eight to possibly just three next year, with the aim firmly on producing players of a higher quality, rather than just sheer numbers.

On Wednesday, an FAS spokesman said: "The FAS has decided on one model, which will be introduced under the next phase of our strategy aimed at enhancing the development of our young players. Details have been shared with the club chairmen and we are pleased that they have expressed their support for the new concept."

Under the new model, the number of age-group teams will be increased from three - Under-14, U-16 and U-18 - to six: U-13, U-14, U-15, U-16, U-17 and U-18.

Currently, eight local S-League clubs (Tampines Rovers, Home United, Balestier Khalsa, Woodlands Wellington, Tanjong Pagar United, Warriors FC, Geylang International and Hougang United) run COEs.

However, to be given permission to operate a COE next year, a club must show the FAS that they have secured at least three pitches for training, with at least one field that is flood-lit. These pitches must also have proper changing rooms.

A source added that the FAS has dangled a sweetener for clubs who are committed to running a COE by introducing a draft system, in which these clubs have first pick of the best players produced by the COEs.

The biggest change will be in the number of players the system churns out.

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