FAS ● Feb 06, 2024

Inaugural Singapore Youth League to kick off on 24 February with over 200 teams

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Over 200 teams from 52 clubs and academies will be competing in Singapore’s inaugural nationwide elite youth football tournament, February 2024.

 

 

SINGAPORE, 6 FEBRUARY 2024 – The Singapore Youth League (SYL), co-organised by the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) and Sport Singapore (SportSG), was officially launched at the National Stadium this evening.

 

The league, an initiative under the Unleash the Roar! (UTR!) national football project, is Singapore’s inaugural nation-wide elite youth football competition and is set to feature over 200 registered teams from 52 clubs and academies across various age groups. The list of participating teams includes St Michaels’ Soccer Association, Flair Football Academy, the Singapore Premier League’s Lion City Sailors, and invited teams the likes of Malaysia’s Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT).

 

The league will kick off on the weekend of 24 and 25 February 2024, with matches being played at various stadiums across the island.

 

Singapore Youth League: A firm foundation for talent development 

 

FAS President Bernard Tan delivering his opening address at the launch, February 2024. 

 

The SYL is designed to provide aspiring youth players a robust, competitive platform to gain match experience during their developmental years and showcase their talent. To this end, the SYL provides youth players regular matches against opposition at a similar level of football, in an inclusive league that is aimed at individual development in terms of football skills as well as sporting values.

 

The league, open to both boys and girls, will cater to six age groups (Under-8, Under-10, Under-12, Under-13, Under-15, and Under-17) and serve as the primary pipeline for future Singapore internationals, with nearly 3,800 youth players competing in about 1,100 matches per season.

 

Prior to the inaugural season, teams will undergo an initial classification round of matches to help determine their level.  Based on the results of the classification round, teams will be placed in divisions consisting of sides of similar strength for the league proper. The SYL will include a promotion/relegation feature across all age groups, where teams can move up or down divisions based on performance.

 

Youth teams will compete in an annual season spanning approximately eight months, with a mid-year break in between. Teams in the SYL will play an average of about 30 games per season – more than any other youth league in the past. And because of the league’s classification system, these matches will pit teams of similar levels against each other, ensuring that competitive balance is maintained throughout the season.

 

The SYL follows a programming matrix which ensures that each age group plays the recommended required number of games for the continued development of youth footballers in Singapore.

 

Through the league, SPL clubs – that are also represented in the competition – can scout for players, opening pathways into professional football for the SYL’s best.

 

“If Singapore is to have a footballing future, it is clear that the fundamental thing we need is a structured development system for our children that will bring them to greater heights. Like in many other sports, development must start from a young age, and must be built upon best practices even while it is adapted to the Singapore context,” said FAS President, Bernard Tan, who spoke at the SYL’s official launch at the Singapore Sports Hub’s OCBC Lounge.

 

“The SYL that is built on five key pillars – regular matches, competition at the right level, emphasis on development over results, inculcation of sporting values, and inclusivity – aims to do this at scale.”

 

FAS Technical Director Michael Browne said, “Consistent and regular competitive matches against opposition of a similar standard is vital for the development of young footballers. And with the SYL bringing local academies, SPL clubs and even foreign teams together, what we will see is an ecosystem that supports all levels, and one that gives Singapore a pipeline of talent on a clear pathway from the grassroots to the elite level. And this is a sturdy platform for player growth and for the overall growth of the game in the country.”

 

The SYL will also provide a platform for the development of women’s football in Singapore. Clubs can register all-girls teams that will play one age category lower— this means they will compete against boys one to two years younger.

 

Four all-girls teams – two from the Junior National Development Centre (JNDC) and two from the National Development Centre (NDC)  – will feature when the SYL kicks off later this month.

 

 

Shaping the future of football

 

FAS’s Head of Planning (Technical Division Office) and former Lions Baihakki Khaizan at the SYL draw, February 2024. 

 

Besides the invited academies – that include JDT, the ActiveSG Football Academy and the Singapore Sports School – all other clubs and academies that will participate in the SYL are part of the FAS’ Academy Accreditation System (AAS).

 

The AAS’ 13-point criteria ensures that clubs and academies provide a robust structure for youth development. This, along with the competitive environment the SYL provides, are key contributors to the UTR! aim of uplifting Singapore football.

 

Additionally, all participating players will have an Individual FAS Youth Player Profile offering national coaches and scouts valuable insights for selection of players into the National Development Centre (NDC) and unearthing the future of Singapore’s national team.

 

“The SYL reinforces our support towards developing all levels of Singapore football. Through the SYL we are going back to basics, revitalising our grassroots, and nurturing the untapped potential of our youth talent,” said SportSG Deputy Chief Executive, Toh Boon Yi.

 

“We are confident the SYL will provide a robust platform for our young talents to flourish.  More than just a football league, it is a manifestation of our commitment to building a pipeline that will contribute to Singapore football – and the local sporting fabric – for years to come,” he added.

 

Football fraternity excited to get started

 

Soaring Dreams Football Academy Director Deniel Ong, believes that the SYL augurs well for the future of youth football in Singapore. “As an academy director, and more importantly a die-hard Singapore football fan, I believe that the SYL is a big step forward in increasing the level of participation and standards amongst the youth here in Singapore.”

 

His views were echoed by Ibrahim Chemad, Director of Flair Football Academy, which has been in operation since 2019.

 

“I’m excited about the enhanced playing opportunities that our players will enjoy in the upcoming SYL season,” he said. “While we are obviously targeting success in the league for our participating teams, our broader focus is on the holistic development of each player as they grow and excel in the game.”

 

For nine-year-old Kieron Ong who will play in the U10 category for Soaring Dreams Football Academy, there is palpable excitement in the lead up to kick-off.

 

“I am looking forward to playing with and against many of my friends in the SYL. I know that the games are going to be difficult, but I want to play against the strongest players and show what I can do,” said Kieron.

 

“Maybe I can also get spotted by scouts and play for Singapore one day. Hopefully we can win the league!”

 

The inaugural season of the Singapore Youth League will run from 24 February – 1 December 2024. The league will crown champions across every age group after 33 match days of competition.

 

Schedules, scores, and updates can be found at syl.sg or via Singapore Youth League on Instagram, TikTok and Facebook.

 

CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS DEPARTMENT
FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION OF SINGAPORE

 

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