Replies to Media ● Mar 13, 2014

FAS’ reply to Media Queries on Centre of Excellence (COE) League Changes

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The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) places a lot of emphasis on youth development, which is a key component of the FAS Strategic Plan. 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. This, coupled with a series of youth development-related initiatives and programmes, has resulted in the positive development and progress of our boys and teams across all age-groups, from the NFA Under-13 to the Courts Young Lions, over the years.

It has always been our practice to conduct regular reviews aimed at constantly enhancing our existing programmes and initiatives. For instance, we had earlier decided to launch a new Centre of Excellence format so as to strengthen support for the clubs and teams which would in turn enhance the quality of our youth footballers in the mental, physical, technical and tactical aspects. We appreciate the support and acknowledgment of the merits of the new structure from both club chairmen and international football officials.

To facilitate the development of our top youth players, the JCOE Elite Under-12 was fielded in the new Under-14 COE League. As part of their pre-season preparations for the competition, the team played against Warriors Under-14 team and lost narrowly by a score of 4-3.

Our coaches and players did not expect to suffer a heavy loss to Home United Under-14 team in the U-14 COE league over the weekend, during which two Under-13 teams also suffered heavy defeats to their U-14 opponents respectively.

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 Under-12 and Under-13 players. We decided that the Under-14 COE League will split into two, the Under-13 Developmental League and the Under-14 Developmental League.

The elite JCOE Under-12 team will compete in the Under-13 League and the NFA Under-13 will compete in the Under-14 League. Teams in both leagues will play four rounds of matches each in preparation for the COE Challenge Cup tournaments that will be organised at the end of the season. As the development of players at this young age remains our key priority, there will be no league tables for both Developmental Leagues.

Following our decision, we contacted and explained our decision to the parentsĀ of the JCOE Under-12 players. We are appreciative and heartened by their feedback and support.

For instance, Mrs Priya Selvam, parent of player Rohin Ramachandra, said: “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 along the way. There’s never a perfect policy but what matters most is that the decision maker has the commitment and conviction to review periodically, welcomes constructive feedback and makes the necessary changes when deemed necessary. I am both pleased and heartened to note that FAS is continuously looking at ways to improve football and its various programmes and initiatives. As a parent, I have seen how these programmes have benefitted my son and facilitated his development. We will continue to work with, and support, FAS and we look forward to the continued development of our son’s footballing pathway.”

Apart from parents, clubs and coaches also welcome the new move.

Mr S Thavaneson, BKFC Chairman, said: “Implementing these changes shows FAS is proactive in addressing issues. After the first round of matches, we found that there is a major issue involving physique and strength between some of the different age groups. Rather than wait for more rounds of matches to be concluded before making changes, we worked closely with FAS and the other clubs to identify the challenges quickly and reacted immediately to address it.”

Mr Hairi Suap, Warriors FC COE Coach, said: “I applaud the FAS for reviewing the competition format following the results from last weekend. It showed that they will not hesitate to implement changes for the good of the young players. I fully support the changes as I feel they will benefit our youth football development programmes. At this age, the development of the players must take top priority, even more so than results because we are training the future generation of players.”

Moving forward, FAS will continue to engage all stakeholders, work with them to assess and review our various initiatives and programmers and make refinements whenever necessary for the betterment of local football. Ultimately, our goal is to develop and groom our youth players to the best of our abilities.