Develop local football talent? Ball is in FAS' court (Mailbox, Sports)

Last Sunday's article ("Seeking a wider talent pool") showed there are many Chinese and Indian Singaporeans who are passionate about football but are realistic about the career opportunities in the sport.

The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) knows it is unrealistic to persuade more locals to turn professional, and chose the easy way out by increasing the foreign player quota to five for each S-League team.

Even the S-League rules make it very difficult for local footballers. For example, a club can sign up to only two local amateur players without approval from the competitions chief, while foreign amateur players are not subject to this ruling.

If the FAS really wants to deve-lop a sustainable local model with its limited budget, it may have to consider cutting back on expensive foreign players, to fund more professional and semi-professional local footballers.

Marketing and working with the media will be very important to create awareness, especially with success stories of semi-professionals.

It also seems that the clubs' expectations are quite inflexible, which could have led some potential players to ditch their dreams.

To cast the net wider, the S-League may have to recruit more semi-professional local players, by increasing the maximum team size from 20 to 25.

One suggestion could be for the clubs to consider different part-time schemes for players who can commit to only a certain number of training and match hours each month.

So the ball is now in the FAS' court. Is its plan to develop local talent, or raise the standard of the S-League by having more foreign players?

Ivan Goh

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