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SFA Set To ROAR Under UTR!

(The content and  images depicted in this entry were made available by the media release issued by the organizers)

As part of the action plan to cement the commitments that were spelt out months ago in the ambitious blueprint to lift Singapore football out of the doldrums, the audience at the Jurongville Secondary School witnessed the launch of the School Football Academy (SFA) programme under the Unleash The Roar! (UTR!) project last Saturday (23rd July).

Mr Edwin Tong (extreme right) and Mr Eric Chua (extreme left)

Graced by the presence of Mr Edwin Tong, the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, the event also saw the unveiling of the logos of both SFA and UTR!.

Being one of the key pillars of the UTR! project, the SFA initiative was first announced last November following a partnership with the Spanish top-tier league LaLiga.

TRAINING FREQUENCIES TO INCREASE

Among the key features of the programme are increased training frequencies – up to four times a week from the average of two - and the application of sports science to training.

Through the SFA programme, the number of young players receiving elite training at the Under-15 and Under-17 levels is set to increase to about 1,400 secondary school boys and girls, close to triple the current 500.

Mr Eric Chua - Chairman of the UTR! Executive Committee 

At the moment, the SFA programme only features boys. But female SFAs are set to come on stream next year.

"The SFAs are one of the most important building blocks in the UTR! programme – we can only have strong national teams if we have a broad base of players to choose from, as well as young athletes who have sound fundamental skills." said Mr Eric Chua, Chairman of the UTR! Executive Committee in the media statement on the announcement.

"This is one of the key strategies of Unleash The Roar! - to strengthen the youth football development ecosystem for both boys and girls." added Mr Chua who is also the Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY).

BALANCING FOOTBALL AND BOOKS

On top of providing young footballers with more training and opportunities to pit themselves against the best, these student-athletes will also get the full support of their school when it comes to academic study, according to Mr Chua who serves as an MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC.

"They will learn more about balancing sport and school work, receiving a holistic secondary school education that will build character and instill valuable life skills." he added.

COACHES EXCITED ABOUT SFA

Sharing enthusiasm for the project is SFA Head Coach Angel Toledano Flores.

The Spanish coach opined: "It is a privilege to be able to play an important part in raising the standards of Singapore football among the youth.

"I am also excited with the comprehensive approach where I work collectively with all coaches, teachers and sports scientists to help these young footballers fulfil their dreams." said Flores who was formerly with FC Barcelona’s academies in Spain and overseas.

The players will learn to balance sport and school work under SFA programme

Despite their relatively short period together, local coaches like Ismail Yunos are seeing the benefits of having the Spanish coaches in the SFA programme.

"The coaches from Spain have been great in sharing their knowledge with us." commented the former Singapore international who is part of the Singaporean core of the programme on his experience with his new foreign colleagues.

“The process of lifting the standards of football requires cooperation and learning from others. It is important that we acquire the best practices in football coaching to improve Singapore football." shared Ismail.

SFA TOURNAMENT NEXT YEAR

It is also revealed that a tournament involving SFAs is being planned for early next year and it will be taking place at the National Stadium.

On top of that incentive, the first batch of the brightest SFA talents will be sent for overseas training stints as part of the initiative to have a multi-faceted scholarship programme that will not only send them for short-term attachments but also explore longer-term football scholarships.

More details of the SFA scholarship programme will be announced by the end of this year.

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