Football home set for Kallang or Jurong

Football home set for Kallang or Jurong
PHOTO: Berita Harian

Five years after the plan was unveiled, there finally appears to be traction for the Football Association of Singapore's (FAS) National Training Centre (NTC).

The New Paper understands that two locations have been shortlisted: the site where the Kallang Cricket Field is located and a plot of land in Taman Jurong.

The NTC, which is estimated to cost about $25 million, could feature up to three full-sized pitches, and also house sports science and medical facilities. It is expected to be completed in 2018.

When plans to build the NTC were first reported in April 2010, many in the local fraternity wanted Farrer Park to be the location, as that was where many national players were spotted and groomed from the 1960s through to the 80s.

But FAS chief Zainudin Nordin previously conceded that securing the area, seen as a prime residential zone, was a big challenge.

The Kallang Cricket Field hosted the sport of archery at the SEA Games in June, while the location earmarked in Taman Jurong is believed to be around the old Jurong Stadium along Corporation Road, which was previously home to S.League clubs SAFFC and Sinchi.

Said an informed source: "The Kallang Cricket Field is the ideal choice, considering its location in relation to the National Stadium.

"The idea is to inspire the boys from the national youth teams, who, when training there, can see the iconic dome of the Sports Hub and be motivated."

FAS technical director Michel Sablon, who took up the post in April, stressed the need to have an NTC to take Singapore football forward.

Mastermind

The 67-year-old Belgian, who was the mastermind behind the country's blueprint that produced its current "golden generation" of footballers like Eden Hazard and Vincent Kompany, recalled the impact it had on his nation's football.

"We started our new plan in Belgium in 2004 and we built a national training centre by 2006," Sablon told TNP.

"It was a huge change, it was home for the players. The NTC had every facility you needed, the medical office, (the Belgian FA's) management there, the coaches... Everyone was there.

"It gave our football a professional environment."

When asked how important it was for Singapore to have the NTC, Sablon said: "Crucial.

"If I could run 42km and have it tomorrow, I would start running now.

"Now, the boys train here, there, Sports School one day, Serangoon Stadium another... With an NTC, we have a home."

The NTC is set to be the crown jewel of FAS' facilities master plan, which could also see four regional training centres built around the island.

These centres are earmarked for use mainly by clubs in the professional Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League, as well as by the community in which they are based.

It is also in line with the association's goal to position Singapore as an international training hub for top football teams.

These centres could be developed on land existing stadiums sit on which are not affected by the government's sports facilities master plan - announced in 2013, it aims to build football-specific stadiums in Tampines, Geylang, Toa Payoh, Punggol and Jurong East.

Each facility will be able to seat between 5,000 and 20,000 fans and will be shared among S.League teams.

They will also be integral to the bid, if any, by the FAS to host the 2019 Under-17 World Cup.


This article was first published on October 22, 2015.
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