Albirex and Yuhua extend partnership for fifth year
SINGAPORE – It started out as a simple dream to give children in the Yuhua constituency the opportunity to learn about football.
The Yuhua Children Football Clinic for kids aged five to seven was born in 2013, with S.League side Albirex Niigata providing coaches in support as part of their community efforts.
On Sunday morning (Mar 26), a fifth memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed between Albirex and Yuhua Community Sports Club (CSC) to continue what has turned out to be a successful collaboration.
The success of the initial year saw both parties form the Yuhua Albirex Football Academy (YAFA) the following year, which expanded the age range to 14 years old and has since seen a total of 450 children benefiting from the Sunday sessions.
The MOU signing at Shuqun Secondary School also marked the closing ceremony of the 3rd YAFA season, which saw 146 boys and girls involved – up from 93 in 2013.
Albirex chairman Daisuke Korenaga and Yuhua CSC counterpart Lim Chock Sing put pen to paper with Minister for Community, Culture and Youth, Grace Fu as witness.
“We started from humble beginnings…but parents stuck with us and then we caught the attention of Albirex,” recalled Fu, who is advisor to Yuhua Grassroots Organisations.
“We are not looking for footballers to represent Singapore, just looking for children who love football…the point is (for them) to keep at it and be consistent.
“We definitely want this to continue and hope you (all involved) will be us on the journey and I hope more kids can participate and blossom.”
Korenaga described the partnership as a “good story” for both his club and Yuhua and noted that the White Swans, who swept all four local trophies on offer last season, have also contributed back in other ways.
For example, in 2013, they pledged to donate S$1 to Yuhua CSC for every fan who attended their home games at Jurong East Stadium. The funds are channelled to poor families to participate in sports activities and family bonding, one of which includes YAFA.
This year, they will set up the Albirex Sports Development Fund to send two young footballers from Yuhua constituency to their parent club in Niigata, Japan for a training stint and to experience local culture.
“Albirex have donated (a total of) $75,534 since 2013,” Korenaga said. “Yuhua knows that football has merit, and the kids (who take part) can learn values like discipline, teamwork, respect and perseverance.”
A minute of silence was also observed for former national rugby stalwarts Amran Mohammad and Slemat Rasikin, who passed away earlier this year. Both have been involved in YAFA since the start, Amran as a volunteer and Slemat as its chairman.
The day’s events ended with the awarding of certificates of participation to all present participants of the programme, who will look forward to returning for the upcoming season.