Kids Training under the Junior Development Centre (JDC), which is an initiative by the Unleash The Roar! national football programme. Photo Credit : UTR! Ng Chrong Meng
Grassroots football in Singapore is set to take on a more prominent role in terms of identifying and developing youth talent over the long term. In turn, their efforts will be officially recognised by the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) and where applicable, will also be entitled to compensation.
Academy Accreditation System – A high-quality learning and development environment for aspiring players
At the forefront of this effort is the FAS Academy Accreditation System (AAS), which aims to recognize and support various academies while fostering youth development in Singapore through specific criteria for their enhancement. By implementing an accreditation system, consumers of football services will easily identify FAS-recognized academies while providing a clear improvement pathway for these academies. It will also enable the FAS to implement a comprehensive database of youth players which tracks their progression from the time they are registered. By establishing a standardized framework, the AAS further encourages academies to provide a high-quality learning and development environment for aspiring young players.
The implementation of the AAS will also provide an avenue into a structured competition for teams, guaranteeing a minimum number of games to boost player development via a thoroughly curated programming matrix. This aims to foster a competitive and nurturing environment where young talents can thrive. These players from the clubs and academies that are in the AAS system will also be tracked for progress and included in the FAS Talent Identification programme, with potential opportunities to join National Development Centres or train with National age group teams. This offers the young talents an avenue to advance their skills and showcase their potential on larger platforms.
The AAS will consist of three tiers with varying levels of requirements, to ensure that grassroots organisations will have a simple and smooth way of obtaining accreditation and thereby reaping the benefits of doing so. Clubs and academies that join the AAS will be accredited based on the following criteria of Talent Identification, Coaching, Player Performance, Player Welfare, and Annual Assessment. Successful academies will then be accorded with different levels of accreditation from Level One (highest level) to Level Three (base level).
Youths Training under the National Development Centre (NDC), which is an initiative by the Unleash The Roar! national football programme. Photo Credit : UTR!, Ng Chrong Meng
Domestic Training Compensation & Incentive – Reaping the rewards of dedication and commitment
Once accredited under AAS, these academies will have access to a comprehensive training compensation system in 2024. This will help to ensure fairness in the player transfer system by recognising the efforts and investments made by domestic football clubs and academies for developing young talents.
The FAS domestic training compensation system will apply for domestic transfers of players that take place between amateur to professional clubs as well as between two professional clubs. Training Compensation shall be payable until the end of the season in which the player reaches the age of 23, but the calculation of the amount payable shall be based on the years from the age of 12 to 21.
In addition to having proper recognition attributed to deserving clubs and academies, having such a proper structured system in place will also provide financial training incentives to clubs that make an effort to invest in youth development. Without which, bigger clubs could be incentivized to “free ride” on the efforts of the smaller clubs. The initial amount signals the desire to support the development of young players in grassroot football and contribute to the overall growth and sustainability of the sport in the long term. For smaller clubs, training compensation will provide them with the official recognition and due status of having played a crucial role in either kickstarting or developing a youth player’s career in football.
Kids Training under the Junior Development Centre (JDC), which is an initiative by the Unleash The Roar! national football programme. Photo Credit : UTR!, Ng Chrong Meng
Singapore Youth League – A competitive showcase for youth talent
In order to have aspiring youth footballers have an avenue to be exposed to competitive football, the FAS will also be launching the Singapore Youth League (SYL) in 2024. This tournament will provide a competitive platform for young players to showcase their talent and gain valuable match experience.
The SYL will consist of various age groups to be involved, starting from U8, U10, U12 upwards. Currently, the FAS organizes competitive leagues for the U21, U17, and U15 age groups. A new U13 league will be added, as no competitive platforms are currently available for this age group. The tournaments under FAS's governance follow a programming matrix that specifies the minimum number of games each age group must play to ensure their comprehensive youth development. By establishing these competitive platforms and age-specific leagues, the SYL tournament aims to nurture young talent and provide them with the best environment to progress in their football journey.
Volunteers – the heartbeat of the football community
Recognizing the invaluable contribution of volunteers to the football community, the FAS has established the FAS Volunteers Programme. This program aims to attract, train, and manage volunteers who play a crucial role in various aspects of football operations, from coaching to match organization and event management. The FAS Volunteers Programme ensures that volunteers receive not only receive recognition but proper training and support, enhancing their effectiveness and impact on the football ecosystem. With the upcoming introduction of the SYL, the need for volunteers will increase. There will be a large increase in the number of grassroots games especially if the league grows over the years with more participating teams. This in turn will require more people and organisations to come forward and assist with a multitude of tasks and responsibilities to ensure smooth operation of the matches. The Volunteer Programme aims to encourage this to make grassroot football, a success. The involvement of the community will also make this a national movement.
These initiatives highlight the FAS's commitment to elevating football development in Singapore. By providing a comprehensive framework that includes the AAS, Domestic Training Compensation scheme, and Volunteers Programme, the FAS aims to create a thriving and sustainable football ecosystem in Singapore.
The FAS will be engaging the key stakeholders, including local clubs, academies, coaches, players, and volunteers, to gather valuable feedback and suggestions in order to further refine the abovementioned initiatives prior to their launch in 2024.
Kids Training under the Junior Development Centre (JDC). These kids were selected from the Football Association of Singapore-Unleash The Roar! talent identification trials held from March to June 2023. Photo Credit : UTR!, Ng Chrong Meng