UNLEASH THE ROAR! An aspiration to unify Singaporeans through football
9 March 2021 – Sport Singapore (SportSG) and the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) today outlined details of a multi-stakeholder national project, in support of Singapore Together, entitled ‘Unleash the Roar!' aimed at galvanising the nation’s football ecosystem and bringing sustainable success to Singapore. At the heart of the project is a long-term view to improve the standards of Singapore football across all levels, with a structured football development system that can fuel dreams of young Singaporeans.
“Uplifting Singapore football will be a national project, and I encourage all of us to rally around this common goal. It is a sport which can unite Singaporeans of all ages, races and genders. There has to be a collective unity to pursue a shared goal, all of us, working together, united, pulling in the same direction, for this project to have chance. We will continue to do our best to build a sustainable and resilient football ecosystem which Singaporeans can be proud of,” said Mr Edwin Tong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and Second Minister for Law.
Unleash the Roar! aims to rally Singaporeans, inspire our next generation, and create a safe, disciplined and professional sporting ecosystem. This project will provide talented Singaporeans a shot at a professional career at the highest levels of the sport and raise the bar for Singapore’s national football teams.
The project will spark a progression in Singapore’s football ecosystem with clear pathways. This includes increasing children and youth football participation in schools, scouting and development of talented players, enhancing knowledge and skill sets of coaches, and strengthening local professional football league. Players can also look forward to opportunities for training at top football academies, as well as subsequently plying their trade at top leagues around the world.
(Lim Teck Yin - CEO, Sport Singapore)
“Under Vision 2030, we have always envisioned that young Singaporeans would be given ample opportunities to play and develop their sporting talents. This Project will go a long way for us to revitalise the systems, structures and support for football, and “Unleash the Roar!”. This will be a collective effort with the public-private-people sectors coming together in this Singaporean journey. Football is not just a popular sport, but also transcends social and economic boundaries. When we play, watch and cheer, the shared experience, rising above the challenges together strengthens the fabric of our communities and society,” said Mr Lim Teck Yin, CEO of Sport Singapore and Co-Chair of Unleash the Roar! Executive Committee.
A Multi-Stakeholder Singapore Project
This vision of Unleash the Roar! is based on involvement of government agencies including the Ministry of Culture, Community & Youth (MCCY) and the Ministry of Education (MOE), alongside SportSG, FAS, the football fraternity, corporate Singapore, and Singaporeans.
The multi-stakeholder approach is also reflected in the project’s leadership. SportSG CEO Mr Lim Teck Yin and FAS Deputy President Mr Bernard Tan will helm the Executive Committee with representatives from MOE, amongst others.
Unleash the Roar! stands apart from football’s various past blueprints in its drive to make tangible and quantifiable changes in the sport’s structure from the ground up. These changes were planned with feedback from the fraternity and with a firm commitment of support from relevant government stakeholders.
“MOE is happy to support this project and we look forward to working closely with MCCY, SportSG and FAS to identify children and youth with interest in football, and to nurture their passion and skills in this area,” said Mrs Tan Chen Kee, Divisional Director of the Student Development Curriculum Division, MOE.
(Mr Lim Kia Tong - President, FAS)
FAS president Mr Lim Kia Tong hailed this approach as a game changer for Singapore football. “We are delighted to see this national project receive strong backing from the government as we look to improve the standards of Singapore football. While previous blueprints have been focused on achieving specific results, this project boosts the entire ecosystem to achieve a higher standard of football that can effectively facilitate outcomes that seek to bring pride to Singapore in a sustained manner. It is not about one outcome but implementing a platform for the future.”
In establishing multiple pathways to elite youth football, Unleash the Roar! will take on a holistic view of the Singapore football ecosystem. Through a structured programme, with equal emphasis on sporting excellence and academic performance, the project aims to expand the talent pool on the back of the National Football Curriculum. The curriculum will be implemented in schools and through the ecosystem, including public and private academies.
Scholarships to both local and overseas tertiary institutions and academies will be available to top talents to ensure education remains central even as sporting development rises to the elite level. This programme will also be supported by improved infrastructure, enhanced coaching, technical capabilities as well as sports science. More details of each pillar can be found in Annex A.
- Pillar One: Let Them Play
- Pillar Two: Let Them Soar
- Pillar Three: Scholarships
- Pillar Four: National Service
- Pillar Five: Enhanced Technical Capabilities
- Pillar Six: Science and Technology
- Pillar Seven: Infrastructure
- Pillar Eight: Whole-of-Society Partnership
(Bernard Tan - FAS Deputy President)
“There’s no one single magic bullet that will bring football success. We will need a broad ranging reimagination and re-energising of Singapore football to ensure that key aspects are in place to set a platform for our young ones to be able to rise to a standard that can bring consistent sustainable success,” said FAS Deputy President, Mr Bernard Tan.
“This necessarily includes a big pool at the grassroots level, multiple pathways to ensure we catch late bloomers, and structures put in place for them to rise to the elite level and beyond.
Each pillar has a critical role to play in our reimagined ecosystem so that football can bring success and pride to Singapore well beyond 2034.”
An Excited Fraternity
The proposed plans for the Unleash the Roar! project is welcomed by parents and members of the local football community alike.
Mr Irwan Isnin, a father of two boys and a girl who are all deeply entrenched in the football fraternity, said: “It’s heartening to know that there are these plans to put in place a feasible and structured pathway for both boys and girls to develop and have a shot at playing professionally at a high level.
Mr Irwan’s older son is in the Singapore Sports School’s football programme, while the younger boy is part of the ActiveSG Football Academy. His daughter is in the National Under-16 squad. “More importantly, these plans take into account the educational aspect for young footballers and ensures that they receive a good education as well - that is very important in securing the future of our children,” he added.
Mr Ong Kim Soon, Principal of Singapore Sports School, is confident that Sports School can be a valued partner in the push towards uplifting Singapore’s football.
“As a national sports academy of excellence, Singapore Sports School has an important role to play in developing the pipeline of national athletes, including football talents,” he said.
“We will continue to work hand-in-hand with stakeholders to align our goals, strengthen the football programme within Sports School, and do more community outreach, to boost interest in football, and the aspirations of football enthusiasts.”
Singapore has won four ASEAN Championships, and Mr Baihakki Khaizan, who was a part three of those title-winning Lions squads, believes the project has its fundamentals right.
“Starting off with getting feedback from the Singaporeans and the football fraternity is a good way to kick off a national project. The plan has strong fundamentals and is definitely a step in the right direction for the state of the game in Singapore. Unleash the Roar! is an ambitious project, yes, but one that starts from the ground up, and one that is much needed,” said the 137-cap Singapore international.
“We’ve always had talent in Singapore. With the right foundation put in place, full commitment from all involved, and with the backing from Singapore and Singaporeans, we can set the foundation to achieve success on the pitch.”
Annex A - Unleash the Roar!: The Eight Pillars
Pillar One: Let Them Play
Conditions in place by 2022:
- Nationwide adoption of FAS’ National Football Curriculum delivered by FAS-certified coaches
- Revamped National Accreditation System (Coaching & Academies)
- Revamped competitions with expanded reach and adjusted format
- Unified curriculum with strong local coaches developed at all levels.
- Stronger interest, increased participation and healthier lifestyle amongst children
- Steady stream of players for School Football Academies (SFA)
- Conducive training environment with inculcation of strong values
Pillar Two: Let Them Soar
The second pillar of the project is aimed at improving the elite training structure, including establishing multiple pathways to the pinnacle of the youth game.
Conditions in place by 2022-2023:
- Selection system of players based on suitability (talent, character and commitment)
- Up to 10-15 SFAs with FAS coaching team and infrastructure (both local and foreign coaches)
- Enhanced National Accreditation System (coaching & academies)
- Established Elite League for SFAs with invitation of credible international school teams to participate
- Alternative pathways and competitions for development of players outside of SFAs.
- Unified Curriculum with strong local and foreign coaches.
- Ensure talent outside of the SFAs are part of this project.
- Conducive training environment with inculcation of strong values
Pillar Three: Scholarships
Conditions in place by 2022:
Overseas Football Scholarships
- Identification and establishment partnership with about 5 foreign universities/clubs (Australia, Europe and America)
- Establish criteria for foreign scholarships
- Football Scholarships for Foreign Sports Talents (FST)
- Establishment of scouting network within Local Private Academies and identified foreign countries (focus on Central Europe and ASEAN/Asia)
- Identification of 10 talented young footballers for local FST Football Scholarship (player should be at least 13-15 years old)
- Agreement by SFA/SSP for emplacement for local scholarship
- Provides the player and their parents with a sense of confidence that football and academia can co-exist without compromise of one over the other.
- Football Scholarships to provide elite footballers with a sustainable and attractive livelihood
- Supplement local talent development with foreign sports talent in Singapore.
Pillar Four: National Service
MINDEF will continue to support high-potential national footballers through MINDEF’s existing provisions, which include early voluntary enlistment, short postponements of enlistment, and time-off to train for major competitions, which will allow sportsmen to do well while still fulfilling their NS obligations.
Pillar Five: Enhanced Technical Capabilities
Conditions in place by 2022:
- Aligned pathway development for players, coaches, and parents
- MOU with key international partners
- Privatisation of the SPL
- All technical coaches and personnel to be updated in the National Football Curriculum
- On-boarding programme for players, coaches, technical personnel and parents
- Scouting and talent identification network to be established
- Singapore’s top elite players to play in top overseas leagues in Europe and Asia
- International competitions hosted in Singapore (For example: Merlion Cup, Lion City Cup, AFC qualifying competitions)
- Increase in number of AFC Elite Youth Scheme Accreditations.
Pillar Six: Science and Technology
- Implementation of National wide Athlete Monitoring database system
- Awareness and embracement of Science & Technology
- Coaches and support staff suitable trained and educated
- Identification of Key Sport Scientist and Analyst positions for all SPL Clubs, National and Age Group teams
- Professionalism of athletes and coaches systematically using technology for enhancing DTE and competition analysis
- Centralized High-Performance Football Centre to coordinate the alignment of philosophy
- Data driven entertainment (broadcasting)
- Enhance Job creation and attachment opportunities in the technology area
Pillar Seven: Infrastructure
Conditions in place by 2022:
- More school fields to be floodlit
- Indoor sports halls to be allocated for Futsal (Dual-Use Scheme [DUS] Schools)
- 5 Shared Stadiums and 10 Training Venues.
- High Performance Centre for Football
- Review of quality of football fields for SPL Clubs
- Increase playable space for football & futsal
- Improved football pitches for the SPL Clubs.
- Capture data for the development of players and teams at the project’s High-Performance Centre
Pillar Eight: Whole-of-Society Partnership
Members from the public-private-people sectors can go beyond supporting as a financial supporter and to serve as community partners and work with Singaporeans to support these programmes that create shared experiences and mutual understanding and encourage Singaporeans to live better through Sport.
Annex B – 3 PHASES TO UNLEASH THE ROAR
Phase 1: CORE (Establishing conditions)
Timeframe: 2021 - 2022
All conditions to increase participation at the base of the pyramid to drive the Unleash the Roar! project to be in place. This includes the National Curriculum, participation in schools, implementation of 10-15 School Football Academies and scholarship programmes.
Phase 2: CHARGING AHEAD (Expansion)
Timeframe: 2023 - 2027
Execution of all strategies in the 8 pillars
Phase 3: OUTCOMES (Performing in tournaments)
Timeframe: 2028 - 2033
Final push towards qualification for World Cup in 2034 as an aspirational milestone
Annex C – Statement by Singapore Sports School
Singapore Sports School To Be A Valued Partner Towards “Unleash the Roar!”
Singapore Sports School is ready to support and further the nation’svision to uplift football, and work collaboratively with stakeholders to further the “Unleash the Roar!” national agenda. Established in 2004, Sports School provides a holistic sport-focussed education to nurture Champions In Sports, Champions For Sports and Champions In Life. Football has been offered as an Academy Programme within the school since its inception.
Sports School will continue to be the best place for student-athletes, including footballers, who wish to pursue sports at a high level while pursuing their and their academic studies. Aspiring footballers interested to play football professionally will benefit from quality sport development programmes which is supported by strategic partnerships with key stakeholders, top-notch coaching, and individualised athlete development plans that ensure optimal training and competition experience. Student-athletes’ long-term development will also be further supported by athlete-friendly academic programmes at both secondary and post-secondary levels, athlete-life management and performance support, and boarding facilities within the school’s campus.
To instil an interest in Football, Sports School has been operating as one of ActiveSG’s Development Centres. It has been conducting football training for interested primary school go-ers between 10 and 12 years old. Moving forward, Sports School plans to extend its outreach by conducting additional ‘Learn to Play’ programmes for younger children. It will also work with primary schools and grassroots organisations to reach out to lower-income families to give them the opportunity to participate in the programme. This will further expand opportunities for more children to experience and enjoy football from a younger age.
For high performing female footballers who are recommended by the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) and found suitable for admission into Sports School, they would also be supported by the holistic sports-focused environment of Sports School while training with the FAS/club. Sports School also welcomes talented student-athletes to join its Football Academy mid-way during their secondary education, as well as for its post-secondary programmes, either for the International Baccalaureate Diploma or business diploma programmes with Ngee Ann or Republic Polytechnic.
Mr Ong Kim Soon, Principal of Singapore Sports School, is confident that Sports School can be a valued partner in the push towards uplifting Singapore’s football. He said, “As a national sports academy of excellence, Singapore Sports School has an important role to play in developing the pipeline of national athletes, including football talents. We will continue to work hand-in-hand with stakeholders to align our goals, strengthen the football programme within Sports School, and do more community outreach, to boost interest in football, and the aspirations of football enthusiasts.”
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