ActiveSG Football Academy kids playing a mini football match on the Marina Bay Floating Platform as part of a football festival organised by ActiveSG. Photo: SportSG
Since it kicked off in May 2016, the ActiveSG Football Academy has attracted hundreds of children across its five training venues, and they came together for a football festival at the Marina Bay Floating Platform on Sunday morning to celebrate its success.
Organised by the academy, the event saw children from different age groups participate in friendly matches – all against the backdrop of Singapore’s city skyline.
The academy’s first season was marked by more than 300 boys and girls signing up over the June holidays, while the on-going second season hit a total of 370 sign-ups, with many from the first season wanting to extend their football education.
“We were very heartened from the first and second seasons, as the return rate was over 90%, and I think that is a great indication that the parents also believe in the quality of our programme,” said Lim Teck Yin, CEO of Sport Singapore.
One such parent, Damien Lee, told ActiveSG that he had enrolled his seven-year-old son into the ActiveSG Football Academy during its first season, and was pleasantly surprised by the turnout at the Floating Platform.
“I think it’s a good opportunity to engage all of the children together,” Lee remarked on the 300 kids taking part in the football festival.
The friendly tournaments began with a mass warm-up led by the ActiveSG Football Academy principal, Aleksandar Duric, who was pleased with the academy’s progress so far.
“In the long term, I want to see more kids (coming) to our academy and that’s my dream,” said the former national striker. “I want more kids to come and join us and learn to play football, and through the football learn some life values.”
ActiveSG Football Academy announced its partnership with S.League football club Geylang International FC, with Bedok Stadium set to be the sixth centre to offer the academy's programmes. Geylang International FC Chairman Ben Teng (left) performing a symbolic jersey exchange with Sport Singapore CEO Mr Lim Teck Yin. Photo: SportSG
To accommodate the growing interest, a partnership with S.League club Geylang International FC was also announced during the event, and the ActiveSG Football Academy will offer its programme at Bedok Stadium, home ground of the Geylang Eagles.
Bedok Stadium will be the sixth centre for the academy, and the first to be located in the east of Singapore. The other five venues are Jurong East Stadium, Queenstown Stadium, Serangoon Stadium, Woodlands Stadium and Kallang Field.
To mark the academy’s first partnership with a S-League club, Lim and Geylang International FC Chairman Ben Teng conducted a symbolic jersey exchange.
“We have not explored much of the east side of Singapore, and (it’s) perfect now to get Bedok Stadium to bring even more kids (in to train) closer to their homes,” said Duric.
Singapore football legend Fandi Ahmad (in black) made a guest appearance at the ActiveSG Football Academy football festival. Here he is seen enjoying a kickabout with the academy kids. Photo: SportSG
The captain of Geylang, Isa Halim, has been appointed head coach of the Bedok Stadium centre and will lead the new programme while juggling playing responsibilities for his club. Geylang’s Young Eagles Soccer (YES) academy will be merged into the ActiveSG Football Academy from 17th September, when the Bedok programme officially begins.
When asked about what he hoped to impart to the children, 30-year-old Isa said that he wished to share his football knowledge as well as industry experience in the unique dual capacity of a coach and an active S-League player.
“It’s a great opportunity for (the younger generation) to rub shoulders with professional players,” he pointed out.
“We are hoping that now having partnered with ActiveSG, it will (bring) more fans to watch the S-League, because that is where the national players are picked from,” Isa continued.
Local football legend Fandi Ahmad, who was a surprise guest at the event considered the partnership to be a great move for the country to nurture greater talent for the sport.
“Hopefully from this, we can get a (larger) pool of players in the future, because at the moment we are very limited,” he said, emphasising that developing a good team of players begins by exposing them to the sport from a young age.
With national swimmer Joseph Schooling clinching Singapore’s first Olympic gold in the Rio Olympics recently, continued initiatives and partnerships of this kind would only encourage higher levels of sport participation among Singaporeans.
“We expect that rising from (Schooling’s) success, there will be an increasing interest among families and from parents, to want their children to also learn to play sports, be active and to grow,” said Lim.