Press Releases ● Feb 15, 2014

Launch of Centre of Excellence (COE) 2014


SINGAPORE, 15 FEBRUARY 2014:  The Football Association of Singapore is pleased to announce the launch of the revamped Centres of Excellence (COE), one of the platforms for youth development in Singapore football.

Under the new structure of the COE, three S.League clubs namely Balestier Khalsa, Home United and Warriors FC, will field six age-group teams of 25 players each, at the Under-13, Under-14, Under-15, Under-16, Under-17 and Under-18 levels.

There will be a total of three COE League Competitions, at the Under-14, Under-16 and Under-18 levels, which the National Football Academy (NFA) teams will also participate in.

The COE Under-14 competition will comprise the COE Under-13 and Under-14 teams as well as the NFA Under-12 and NFA Under-13 teams, while the COE Under-16 competition will feature the COE Under-15 and Under-16 teams and the NFA Under-14s. The NFA Under-15 and Under-16 teams will join the COE Under-17 and Under-18 teams in the COE Under-18 competition.

Other changes include an improved, all-round footballing education for these youngsters. Specialists such as goalkeeping coaches, fitness coaches and sports trainers will educate the players in terms of fitness and health, nutrition, injury prevention and sports psychology.

Fitness coaches will help to plan and implement appropriate fitness and conditioning programmes according to training and match requirements, monitor the progress of players’ and teams’  fitness and physical status and also measure, examine and assess individual players’ and teams’ physical and fitness capacity and capability.

Sports Trainers play an important role in the sports science aspect, as they provide effective communication on injuries to players and coaches, including advising on immediate injury management approaches to relevant individuals, and also expedite the referral to relevant specialists to deal with the injury.

Goalkeeping coaches are specially-trained to improve the goalkeepers’ technical competencies: such as improving and educating goalkeeper‚Äôs understanding of team play, developing and improving upon the goalkeeper’s leadership abilities, and also planning and implementing appropriate goalkeepers’ training program according to training & match requirement.

The table below summarises the key benefits of the restructured COE, at a glance:

  • More age-group teams: from three previously (at Under-14, Under-16 and Under-18 level) to six (Under-13, Under-14, Under-15, Under-16, Under-17 and Under-18)
  • Increased quality of teams per age group
  • Increased resources in terms of facilities, specialist coaches / staff
  • Expanded pool of technical experts (including specialist coaches/ assessors)
  • Enhanced capabilities of coaches with mentorship programmes aimed at imparting key knowledge, including Coaching & Playing Philosophy, facilitating development of the coaches
  • Enhanced sports science and medicine support
  • More intense competitions due to the increased quality of players competing, and increased quality of training
  • Enhanced tactical, technical, mental and physical capabilities of players
  • Overall, increased quality of teams and players coming through the ranks.


Said Mr Zainudin Nordin, FAS President: “Youth development is a key pillar of the FAS Strategic Plan. The new COE format, which will enhance the technical, tactical, mental and physical development of our young players, will add on to our other existing youth development platforms such as the LionsXII and Courts Young Lions.

Mr Zainudin added: “We have a clear vision for the progression of these players: promising young players will be given opportunities to represent Singapore at youth international level when they get selected to be part of the National Football Academy; the players will also get to be scouted by the S.League teams and commence their careers as professional footballers. The COE will be the platform for these young players to both showcase and refine their talents, a step which brings them closer towards their goal of a being a professional footballer.”

Said Mr S Thavaneson, Chairman of Balestier Khalsa FC: “I am encouraged by the excellent progress that FAS has made in terms of youth development, over the past few years. The various initiatives and programmes have been praised by leading football officials from FIFA, other member associations and clubs. We are both delighted and honoured to be one of three S.League clubs selected to run a Centre of Excellence. Youth development is a vital aspect of football, and we are privileged to have a hand in developing future players for both the S.League and Singapore.

“We will work closely with FAS in various aspects of youth development, such as identifying and developing players, as well as enhancing coaches’ capabilities and capacities, which are important components of the FAS Strategic Plan. Notwithstanding the solid foundations in place for youth development, the clubs require much more financial resources, including facilities, in order to maximize their potential in terms of developing players for the future. Therefore, we hope that more corporations will come forward to partner us in the implementation of our initiatives.”

The other two chairmen, BG Lam Shiu Tong of Warriors FC and Mr Anselm Lopez of Home United, shared similar sentiments.

Said BG Lam Shiu Tong, Warriors FC Chairman: “These are exciting times as the revamped COE will see more resources being channelled towards youth development than before. The clubs get to focus on solely on developing players for the future, as FAS is ensuring that important administrative needs such as funding and coaches are all looked after. There will be a greater concentration of talent with the new COE structure, and the system can only produce even better players as a result. I look forward to the day when we see the players we develop from our ranks, turn out for our team in the S.League in the future. There can be no bigger source of pride for a club or its fans than a home-grown, developed player from within the club ranks.”

Mr Anselm Lopez, Home United Chairman was united in agreement: “The Centre of Excellence system is an excellent initiative of the FAS which provides the COE with the necessary resources to focus primarily on player development. The youth players will not only train with experienced and certified coaches and compete with the best of their peers on the field, but they will also have access to sports science and medical support to excel.

“Our successes at club youth level, both in terms of winning competitions as well as in terms of developing players for the future, show that we are on the right track. We aspire to continue to identify, groom and develop players for the future, turning them into world class professionals to represent the National Team.”

FAS’ youth development structure has been singled out for praise by several international leading officials. FIFA Technical Director Jean Michel Benezet had previously assessed our various youth development programmes, and noted that our youth development set-up and technical programmes were among the most comprehensive in the region.

FIFA’s Senior Manager, Development Programmes (Asia) Mr David Borja had previously said that it was a wise visionary move by the FAS to prioritize youth development programmes in view of the challenges it faces in securing funding, while French Football Federation Vice-President Bernard Desumer described FAS as “one of Asia’s best football administrators” and that FAS “has a comprehensive youth development structure”.

Said Mr Borja: “Congratulations to the Football Association of Singapore on the launch of the 2014 Centres of Excellence. Youth development is an important aspect of football development, and in prioritising youth development, the FAS management have shown great foresight, especially in view of the challenges faced in funding. Funding remains a crucial component in the execution of FAS’ Youth Development plans and initiatives, and added funding will definitely help FAS maximise its potential.

It is also heartening to note that despite the perennial challenges in terms of funding and limited facilities, FAS has continued to reap the fruits of the labour with various programmes and initiatives since I last visited FAS in December 2012, one of which is the emergence of young talents into the senior national team. This shows that FAS has done well in the implementation of their Strategic Plan, and that a systematic and steady progression has been made in recent years, as can be seen by the introduction of the Junior Centre of Excellence scheme, as well as the expansion of the National Football Academy setup.”

FC Metz’s Youth Academy Director Mr Denis Schaeffer was also previously quoted in the media as saying that the FC Metz coaches were very impressed with Adam Swandi, one of our former National Football Academy players, when they first saw him during a training attachment in December 2012, a testament to FAS’ emphasis on youth development as well as the quality of our system and the potential of our players.

He said: “When I was in Singapore in February and May of 2013, I observed that there were a number of promising young players with great potential. Adam Swandi is a prime example and I am pleased to note how well he has adapted here. This speaks volumes of the quality of Singapore’s youth development systems, which is now set to improve even further with the restructuring of the COE programmes.

FAS has in place a visionary plan, as well as the National Football Syllabus, which has been commended by leading international football officials. Now that FAS has launched the new COE programmes, the clubs are in an even stronger position to develop more good players. This is because FAS ensures that important administrative details such as coaches and logistics are looked after, freeing the clubs to focus solely on player development. FAS has set good foundations in its youth development policies and I believe there will be even more good young players being unearthed in the not too distant future.

Austrian Football Association Technical Director Willi Ruttensteiner, who most recently visited Singapore in December 2013, expressed praise for the new structure and all involved: “FAS has done an excellent job in prioritising youth development, and this launch is only the latest in their list of comprehensive youth development programmes. By focusing on youth development, as is evident in the programmes I have seen during my stay in Singapore last December, I believe the future is bright for Singapore football.

“The phased approach in the restructuring of the youth development programmes means that there is a progressive and systematic way of developing players: the very young players from 6-12 years old start at the Junior Centres of Excellence (JCOEs), before moving on to the Centres of Excellence between 13-18 years old, and subsequently carving out their careers as professional footballers. In between, the best players will also get to represent Singapore as youth internationals, by representing the National Football Academy teams. The system is comprehensive and ensures that players are well-trained throughout the entire development phase of their football careers.

“During my stay, I also conducted sharing sessions with Singapore’s local coaches, whom I observed to be both talented and young. There are many young coaches with potential in Singapore, which is equally important because quality coaches will produce quality players. This is especially important when it comes to youth development, as the techniques the players develop in their youth will translate into their future football careers.”

The Centres of Excellence were first established in the year 2000, and has served as an important platform to develop talents for both the S.League and the National Team. Singapore international players such as Zulfahmi Arifin, Raihan Rahman, Faris Ramli and Sahil Suhaimi were graduates of the respective Club COE programmes before progressing through the National Football Academy teams, and subsequently earning caps with the National Team.