Aleksandar Duric (right) expresses his hopes for the ActiveSG Football Academy, as SportSG CEO Mr Lim Teck Yin looks on. Photo: Leandro Ngo/SportSG
It’s good news all round for football enthusiasts here, be they young or old, for plans are in place to improve Singapore’s football scene, beginning with a brand new academy sanctioned by Sport Singapore.
Targeted at developing budding players, starting from the youth and grassroots level, the ActiveSG Football Academy will be headed by former Lion and S-League hero Aleksandar Duric.
Sharing what he hoped to achieve with this initiative, Duric said: “We want to develop the youth in our country. There’s no better way than to cooperate and open more opportunities for the kids who might have been left out of the [Football Association of Singapore’s (FAS)] programmes, which are a little bit more elite. We’ll try to do a little bit more grassroots programmes for the kids who don't get a chance to play football.”
Indeed, the Academy’s courses are set to cost less than its counterparts in the private sector, and will be open to anyone with an interest in the sport.
“There are kids who want to play but don’t know how or where to start. We are here to give them [this chance],” continued Duric, who was speaking at a brief meeting with media representatives ahead of the launch of his autobiography on Saturday.
Sport Singapore’s Chief Executive Officer Lim Teck Yin, who was also present at the event, concurred: “We have recognised that there’s a large potential pool of children and youths, boys and girls, who desire to play football. Many of them have not found the right place to play; for many of them, it may even be less affordable or less accessible.”
Lim announced that the Academy would be open to players as young as eight years old, and that it also hoped to integrate players with disabilities.
These potential players could choose to develop in two different directions: recreational or competitive. Either way, however, Lim appeared certain that the programme would be a success for all.
Adding that the Academy’s coaches had to be “mentors and not just football instructors”, Lim also revealed that it had been working closely with the FAS in a bid to grow the national squad.
“[If] we have more players in the community, then we have a larger pool of people who are committing to play football more seriously, to try and compete. Then we have opportunities for more competitions and more leagues at different levels, and then we will have a market for more coaches and technical officials and then, eventually, a strong youth system for our national youth teams and, if we get that right, a strong national team,” he stated.
Duric himself will begin work at the ActiveSG Football Academy on Monday, and professed to be raring to go.
“I’m itching a little bit to be involved personally in coaching! I’ll definitely be around. I don't know if I’ll be around in all the centres when we start every day, but I’ll try to move around and try to be there. I want to be there. I want to show the kids my presence and be involved with all of them,” he enthused.
More details on the ActiveSG Football Academy’s programmes will be released in the near future, along with plans for other sports academies in the same vein, so do look out for these!