Domestic Competitions ● Aug 31, 2018

Underdogs shine at U14 Inter-School Futsal Challenge

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SINGAPORE, 31 AUGUST 2018 – With the traditional football favourites such as Saint Patrick’s and Hong Kah Secondary knocked out of the Singapore Pools-Football Association of Singapore (FAS) Inter-School Futsal Challenge earlier in the competition, it was the unheralded sides that impressed during the semi-finals and final.

Bartley Secondary won the inaugural Under-14 ISFC trophy after a thrilling 3-0 victory against Whitley Secondary,, while Bendemeer Secondary claimed the third spot after a 3-1 win over Hougang Secondary on the final day at Our Tampines Hub.

For most of the students, being able to reach the semi-final stage was already something to cheer about.

Bartley Secondary coach Gareth Chan told the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) website “We actually did poorly in the National ‘C’ Division football competition (held earlier this year). In fact, most of the boys are only in Secondary 1.

“This win is truly a reward for the boys for the hard work, commitment and dedication that they have put in through the past few months. It is great that the FAS is providing the schools with another platform to play football with quality opponents and give the boys something to look forward to.”

As for Hougang Secondary, it was the first time the school had reached the semi-finals of any football competition.

Hougang Secondary coach Nor Azli Yusoff, a former S.League player, said: “I’m very proud of the boys. They played against strong teams but we made it through to the semi-finals. I can see that the boys had discipline, and displayed teamwork throughout the competition.”

A key focus of the ISFC was to instill values of respect, teamwork and passion in the young students through sport. Players are encouraged to work together and support their team, whether win or lose.

The values were emphasised through the FAS Values Ambassadors, Under-23 players from various Singapore Premier League clubs – Taufiq Muqminin (Young Lions), Justin Hui (Hougang United FC) and Mukundan Maran (Warriors FC).

Taufiq and Justin, who were present to show their support for the boys in the third-place playoff and final, commented on the spirit that the boys showed throughout the games.

Said Young Lions Captain Taufiq: “I’ve seen a lot of potential in the players – both in the Under-10 and Under-14 categories. It is great that the players have demonstrated the three values throughout the tournament. It is especially encouraging to see the boys showing respect for their teammates, coaches and referees. Hopefully, we can have such competitions for the other age-groups as well.”

Hougang United midfielder Justin added: “This was a good competition to give a platform to the schools to play. Schools that are not traditionally strong in football have made it far in this Under-14 edition, and this has given some boys the opportunity to shine as well.”

FAS Deputy Director, General Secretary’s Office, Gerard Christopher was satisfied with the inaugural edition of the ISFC and looked forward to a bigger and better tournament in future.

“I think for the first year, it’s been a really good success; we had close to 80 schools take part in both Under-10 and Under-14 levels,” he said. “There’s much to learn in order to improve things moving forward but I think we’ve hit a good spot with the schools; you look at the finals of the Under-14 category, we had Bartley and Whitley Secondary Schools, traditionally schools that don’t progress very far in the B and C Divisions. For them to be in the finals, I think it speaks volumes about the excitement and enthusiasm coming from the schools in taking up futsal.

“The key improvement we want to look at is to develop the coaching courses for the coaches and teachers, so that we can impart better skills to them, who can then kick it downstream. The technical level on show this year is good, but it could be better.”

He added: “I am very happy to see the participation and enthusiasm from the kids, we want to expand this and bring in the girls, more schools and see the positive reinforcements of the values we’ve been talking about as well.”

The Under-14 edition of the ISFC saw 40 teams from 35 participating schools compete for the title over two weeks. The U-14 tournament comes on the back of the Under-10 ISFC, which successfully concluded last month.

The keenly-contested tournament ended with Woodlands Ring Primary School claiming the title after a 2-1 victory over White Sands Primary School, while Yangzheng Primary School took third place.

In line with the FAS’s objectives of developing youth players and increasing participation at the grassroots level, the ISFC is Singapore’s largest school futsal tournament organised for the U10 and U14 age-groups and is supported by Singapore Pools and the Ministry of Education.