The new year often brings about change.
Nine months after he was unveiled as the technical director of the Football Association of Singapore (FAS), Michel Sablon's blueprint to take the local game forward is taking shape.
The FAS has parted ways with two coaches - former international players Robin Chitrakar and Saswadimata Dasuki - in a shake-up of its National Football Academy set-up.
Chitrakar, 39, coached the NFA Under-15 team last year while former Malaysia Cup player Saswa, 46, oversaw the U-17s.
In response to queries from The New Paper, S Varatha Rajan, FAS general manager for football youth development, said: "We confirm that Robin and Saswadimata have left FAS upon the expiry of their contract on Dec 31.
"In line with the standard operating procedure, the FAS conducted a thorough review process which took into consideration the employees' performance appraisal ratings and the association's key priorities and objectives for the next two to four years.
"We had earlier met up with the respective coaches individually and communicated to them our decision on the subject.
"We would like to thank them for their contributions to Singapore football and we wish them well in their future endeavours."
When contacted last night, Saswadimata said he was waiting for coaching offers, and added he was keen to stay in the game. Chitrakar could not be reached for comment.
While the FAS bids adieu to the duo, TNP understands it will say "bonjour" to a new face in former St Etienne and Sochaux midfielder Christophe Chaintreuil.
The 51-year-old Frenchman is set to be put in charge of the U-17 team.
Asked about Chaintreuil, Rajan said: "As we embark on a new phase in football development - with a strong focus on youth development, we will bring on-board experienced and committed personnel, including coaches, whose values align with those of the association and will add value to the various aspects of local football.
"We will make an announcement on the appointments in due course."
Chaintreuil last held a position as director of coaching at AC Arles Avignon, who were relegated from France's second tier at the end of the 2014-2015 season.
Before that, he managed fourth-tier club US Le Pontet, which sandwiched stints coaching youths in Bastia and Qatar.
The changes in coaching appointments are part of the reforms recommended by Sablon since he assumed the technical director role in April last year.
The 68-year-old, regarded the mastermind behind the blueprint that developed Belgium's current golden generation of footballers, had told TNP in an interview just two months into the job that he planned to scrap the NFA U-13 team as it was tough to spot talent accurately at the age.
He cited current Manchester City star Kevin de Bruyne as an example of someone who was "not really excellent" at that age but eventually blossomed into a world-class player.
Sablon was also one of those who strongly recommended lowering the age of the Courts Young Lions team competing in the S.League, from 23 to 21, for the upcoming season.
He also said that he will work to get players in FAS' Junior Centres of Excellence programme, for those in the "golden age" between 10 and 13, to train three times a week - up from once - to polish their technical ability.
He is confident the proper implementation of such plans will help Singapore produce players who can compete with the "best countries in Asia" within five years.
This article was first published on Jan 3, 2015.
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