S-League age quota: What are the goals?

S-League age quota: What are the goals?


The hot topic in the local football fraternity has been the changes planned for the next S-League season ("Changes have to be made: S-League CEO"; last Thursday).

Among the changes, imposing a quota on local outfield players over the age of 30 has been the most controversial.

According to the Football Association of Singapore (FAS), the proportion of local outfield players over this age has climbed to 38.5 per cent, from 31.5 per cent in 2012.

This coincided with the introduction of the LionsXII into the Malaysia Super League, which saw many of our budding young talent being taken away from the S-League.

Can the FAS reveal the number of footballers who played in the National A, B and C divisions and turned professional? And what is the percentage of players who joined the centres of excellence and National Football Academy and made it to the respective national age-group teams?

If these numbers are low, then we have to find out why. And if the numbers are high, we need to study why these players are still unable to dislodge the veterans.

Three things need to be considered if we are to improve the S-League.

First, why restrict players over the age of 30 from playing if they can pass the mandatory fitness test, and are more skilful and can add better value to the teams than younger players?

Second, there is a lack of professionalism, coaching and incentives in the Prime League, which impedes the development of young players. Forcing S-League clubs to field youngsters is a stop-gap measure that will not help.

Third, give fair compensation to clubs that developed players who were later recruited by the Young Lions or LionsXII. Are there incentives for clubs to reach out to secondary schools and the grassroots, and a support structure for them to guide and train the young recruits?

It all boils down to the objectives of the FAS and S-League management.

Do they want to add young players at the expense of quality, or to boost numbers for national team selection? Or do they want to develop a strong and long-term plan to develop Singapore football?

Don Lee Tong


If the S-League management's intent is to introduce more young players, why not set a quota for them, instead of penalising older players? It is unfair for a hard-working and fit footballer in his 30s to be out of a job simply because of his age. Also, most retired players do not have a career path mapped out for them. I urge the S-League management to rethink its plans. -Lee Kek Chin


Footballers should not lose the opportunity to play professionally just because of their age. The recently retired Aleksandar Duric was involved in the S-League for many years, and is the most decorated player in the league's history. Experienced and physically fit players should not be forced into early retirement. - Jeff Tan Hong Liak

This article was first published on Nov 18, 2014.
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