From zero to San Siro

Silvio Broli (L), the global project manager for the ACM Milan Soccer Schools and Daniele Massaro, a public relations manager at football club AC Milan and spokesperson of the Milan Junior Project attend a press conference for the launch of the AC Milan Soccer School in Singapore on May 7, 2014.

Young footballers here with the talent and the ambition to turn professional will have a direct route to one of the world’s most revered football clubs.

Budding players at the AC Milan Academy’s soccer school here will get to train in the Italian city and go through the famed Milan Lab, with the most talented youngsters possibly picked up by the club.

Speaking after yesterday’s official launch at the Tower Club in Republic Plaza I, Milan Soccer School Singapore principal, Joe Keiser, said: “Six of our players, born in 2001 and 2002, will be going to Milan in June for a one-week academy evaluation. They will train two sessions a day and have three sessions at the Milan Lab.

“At the end of the week there will be two matches where the players are evaluated by the Academy’s trainers on their odds of becoming a world-class player.

“That’s the actual point... Milan is using football schools around the world to increase their footprint and develop children to their standards so they don’t have to be scouted.”

Players across different age groups are likely to be assessed at least once a year, he added.

And, even if a player does not make it as a professional, he would have gained in other aspects under the Milan system at San Siro, according to Silvio Broli, the Milan Scuola Calcio’s global manager.

He said: “We put at the centre the child’s development, not just in football but also in every aspect, to bring them to the maximum level they can achieve.

“They will become better men even if they can’t become good football players,” added the Italian, who was at the press conference yesterday, along with AC Milan legend Daniele Massaro and Italian Ambassador to Singapore, Paolo Crudele, among other dignitaries.

PREPARATIONS

Negotiations and preparations for the school’s set-up here took four years, with its soft launch held in January at the Turf City facility under technical director Antonio Corbellini and two local coaches.

With around 160 footballers — the school’s maximum ratio is 12 players to a coach — the programme is reaching its capacity, but there are firm plans to expand before the new intake in September this year.

Players in the current intake pay $360 for nine weeks, where they train between once and thrice a week, excluding weekend matches.

The fee is subsidised by sponsors like Electrolux.

Said Keiser: “The market will not allow us to price to the level we need to deliver 100 per cent of the programme and also get economic results. We have to subsidise (with sponsorship revenue).”

This article was published on May 8 in The New Paper.

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