A FOOTBALL training programme has teamed up with Chelsea FC Football School Singapore as part of an expansion effort to get more local children - of all backgrounds - to take up the game.
Set up by the People's Association (PA) Community Sports Clubs in 2004, the PAssion Children's Football programme has no selection criteria besides age and is open to youngsters with special needs.
Children from low-income families can also have the annual training fees - typically $60 - waived upon request.
So far, more than 7,000 children aged five to 12 have participated in the football training sessions, during which they learn under the supervision of local coaches and parent volunteers.
Yesterday, the PA launched a new partnership with Chelsea FC Football School - linked to the English Premier League club - which will allow for additional football training sessions at 50 locations through schools and volunteer welfare organisations.
It will give another 2,500 children access to the programme.
Last October, the PA announced a partnership with the Ministry of Education to bring PAssion Children's Football closer to residents by organising sessions at school facilities.
Since then, six primary schools have started allowing the PA to use their facilities, bringing the beautiful game closer to home for about 400 participating residents in the respective neighbourhoods.
Another 10 schools are expected to be added to the list by the end of this year.
The PA will also be implementing training for parent volunteers to better prepare them for the young footballers' needs.
Their lessons will include football coaching for children, first aid, nutrition and tournament organisation.
Mr Terry Jago, a volunteer, now coaches children aged five and six at Admiralty Community Sports Club, where his seven-year-old son Kaito, who has autism, trains once a week.
"We put him in football two years ago because of his learning difficulties," said Mr Jago, 37, who began playing the game in his youth.
"We wanted him to meet other children. The sessions have helped him. He is a lot more open now, a lot more sociable."
Muhamad Ahram, 17, began training with Bukit Batok Community Sports Club almost six years ago and has gone from "not knowing how to kick a ball" to being invited to join Gombak United Football Club.
But studies come first, and the Yusof Ishak Secondary School student said he will continue to pursue a professional football career after his O levels this year.
"After all that, I want to play in the S-League."
This article was first published on Feb 9, 2015.
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