Thrashings see league Trashed

Thrashings see league Trashed
HAPPIER DAYS: FAS Junior Centre of Excellence (JCOE) players at the launch of FAS' new COE system last month.

The Football Association of Singapore's (FAS) Centre of Excellence (COE) Under-14 League has been suspended after lopsided scorelines in the previous weekend's first round.

The Home United U-14 side thumped the FAS Junior COE Elite U-12s 23-1, while Balestier Khalsa U-14 trounced Home's U-13s 12-0 and Balestier's U-13 side fell 10-0 to Warriors FC U-14.

The COE U-14 league that featured eight teams from the U-12 to U-14 age-groups has now been split into two leagues.

After emergency meetings over the last two days, the FAS has decided that the U-13 league will feature four teams - the U-13 sides of Warriors, Balestier and Home, as well as the FAS JCOE Elite U-12.

The U-14 league will see the U-14 teams of the same three clubs line up alongside the National Football Academy U-13 team.

New date

The previous weekend's results will be made void and, while no new kick-off date has been set for the new leagues, they are expected to start next month.

League tables will not be tabulated for both agegroup competitions.

Balestier chairman S Thavaneson backed the move.

He said: "After the first round of matches, we found that there is a major issue involving the physique and strength between some of the different age groups.

"Rather than wait for more rounds of matches before making changes, we worked closely with the FAS and the other clubs to identify the challenges quickly and reacted immediately to address them."

Various development systems are adopted across the world.

Some, in Belgium and Australia, have full 11-versus- 11 games for their U-12s.

The English FA's U-11 and U-12 handbook favours a modified 9-v-9 game as a bridge between children's football and the full adult game.

It is aimed at making youth football more child-friendly,

by giving its U-12s "a football experience not based on requiring bigger, stronger, faster players for success".

In response to queries from The New Paper about the reasons behind its initial decision to include U-12 and U-13 teams in an U-14 league, an FAS spokesman said: "As part of our developmental pathway, our youth players and teams would compete against older and stronger opponents in local competitions with the key objective of facilitating their development.

Review

"In line with our standard operating procedures, we conducted a review and also garnered the views and feedback from club coaches whom we are constantly engaged with.

"We studied the issue and decided that we would refine the format, so as to better facilitate the development of our U-12 and U-13 players."

Priya Selvam, the mother of a player in the JCOE Elite U-12 team, was pleased when told of the planned changes.

"As parents, we appreciate that FAS never hesitates to take the necessary action and decision based on the best interests of its young players, even if that means having to refine its system," she said.

"There's never a perfect policy but what matters most is that the decision-maker has the commitment and conviction to review periodically."

The FAS revamped its COE system last month, introducing requirements that have seen five SLeague clubs stop their COEs.

Only Balestier, Home and Warriors now run COEs, but each of them have now increased the number of age-group squads from three to six.


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