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New Goal 2034 project: Students to be groomed to play S’pore brand of ‘high-tempo, possession-based’ football

SINGAPORE — The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) and national sports agency Sport Singapore (SportSG) released more details of the first of a three-phase plan to kickstart a national project for football, with the aim to develop a brand of high-tempo, possession-based football among elite players.

The Singapore football scene is expected to get a boost from a new national plan to rejuvenate the game among the young and the community.

The Singapore football scene is expected to get a boost from a new national plan to rejuvenate the game among the young and the community.

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  • FAS and SportSG gave more details on the national football project
  • It will be executed in three phases from 2021 to 2033
  • Phase One from 2021 to 2022 will aim to boost football participation among children
  • FAS is targeting 10 per cent of boys and girls in each primary school cohort to play football 
  • Plans for football scholarships and support for players going through National Service will be rolled out in Phase Two

 

SINGAPORE — The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) and national sports agency Sport Singapore (SportSG) released more details of the first of a three-phase plan to kickstart a national project for football, with the aim to develop a brand of high-tempo, possession-based football among elite players. 

They also emphasised that the national project’s success did not hinge solely on the country qualifying for the 2034 World Cup, a target mooted by the FAS two years ago for the men’s national football team.

The project’s details on Tuesday (March 9) came a day after Mr Edwin Tong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, announced the plan during a parliamentary debate on his ministry’s budget.

Among several goals, it aims to raise the standard of football among young Singaporeans through a structured training programme in public schools.

SportSG and FAS said on Tuesday during a media briefing at Jalan Besar Stadium that they also wanted to increase the number of children playing football by three to four times.

THREE PHASES FROM 2021 TO 2033

There will be three phases in the roll-out of the national project.

Phase 1 (2021 to 2022)

This will set the conditions to increase mass football participation.

Football co-curricular activities in primary schools will adopt a standardised national curriculum for football.

School Football Academies will be set up in 10 to 15 secondary schools. 

Phase 2 (2023 to 2027)

The complete execution of an eight-pillar strategy will be done at this phase.

They are:

  • Increasing football participation among children

  • Improving the elite training structure

  • Establishing football scholarships

  • Supporting footballers through National Service

  • Enhancing the technical capabilities of players and coaches

  • Tapping science and technology for training

  • Developing football infrastructure

  • Building partnerships with members of the public, private and people sectors

Phase 3 (2028 to 2033)

This phase will focus on the national team’s performance in tournaments, with a “final push” towards qualifying for the 2034 World Cup as an aspirational milestone.

TARGETS FOR PHASE 1

Providing targets for the first phase of the project, Mr Bernard Tan, deputy president of FAS, said that a unified national football curriculum will be set for all primary schools and development centres that have football as a co-curricular activity.

FAS intends to maintain a football participation rate of at least 10 per cent of boys in each primary school cohort. This equates to about 2,000 boys. 

The aim is also for them to play regularly, or at least 30 out of 40 weeks in an academic year.

Mr Tan said: “The emphasis is on play but obviously you need to inject a little bit more technical issues so that kids are developing in the correct pathway.”  

This will establish a pipeline of talented children to move into the School Football Academies at a secondary school level. These academies are the beginning of an elite programme “to develop tomorrow’s superstars”, said Mr Tan.

This elite programme will emphasise “the Singapore way” of playing football, characterised by “high tempo, high-technical, possession-based football”, he added.

Mr Tan said that the target is to have 250 boys and girls in each cohort at a secondary school level playing at an elite level in either School Football Academies or Centres of Excellences accredited by FAS.

At this stage, Mr Tan said that he hopes to see the training time of pupils go from the present two to three times a week to at least four.

“By the time (a student) is 17, we want him to be knocking on the door to be playing in the Singapore Premier League,” he added, saying that this may open up opportunities for the students to also play in overseas leagues.  

2034 AN ‘ASPIRATIONAL TARGET’

Mr Tan called Goal 2034 an “aspirational target” and said that qualifying for the World Cup is not the sole objective of the Government’s vision.

“This aspirational target is important because if we are going to ask our young Singaporeans to commit to this target, they need to aim high.”

He said that success of the project would depend on growing the football ecosystem, encouraging fans to watch live matches and raising footballing standards among Singaporeans.

Mr Lim Teck Yin, chief executive officer of SportSG, said that it will be “inconceivable” if Singapore were aiming for Goal 2034 without first achieving a gold medal in the Southeast Asian Games (Sea Games).

“This is something we aspire to achieve as part of this journey,” he added. Singapore has never won the Sea Games football gold.

On the budget for this national plan, Mr Lim said that details have yet to be finalised, but it will cost more than the existing budget of S$20 million yearly that had been extended to fund FAS and other internal SportSG football programmes. 

When asked how realistic Goal 2034 is, given that the bulk of the players that will make up the national team for the qualifying stages a decade away are already in their preteens or teens, Mr Tan said that this was a “medium-term target” to aspire to because children who are aged six to 10 now still stand a chance of taking part in the World Cup.

There would not be enough time to prepare for the 2030 World Cup, and a child coming under the upcoming project would be too old to take part in the 2038 World Cup, he added.

Mr Lim said that SportSG agreed with FAS that the fight against time is real in getting the football system right.

“(Things) don’t stay static when you compete with the likes of Vietnam and Thailand," he said. 

“So this sense of urgency, I think, is very important and a rallying call for those in the fraternity who love football to believe that we can do it if we put our hearts and minds to the wheel.”

CLARIFICATION: An earlier version of this report quoted Mr Bernard Tan, deputy president of FAS, saying that the association was targeting to have 10 per cent of boys and girls in each cohort play football, “a trebling to quadrupling” of the current numbers. FAS has clarified that this is incorrect. It intends to maintain a football participation rate of at least 10 per cent of boys in each primary school cohort.

Related topics

football FAS Goal 2034 SportSG. MCCY

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