Albirex Niigata expand youth system with mainly local U-17s
A year after starting their largely local Under-15 team, Singapore Premier League (SPL) club Albirex Niigata have expanded their youth set-up with an Under-17 side, Albirex general manager Koh Mui Tee announced yesterday.
He said: "This will provide a proper pathway for our Singaporean boys to become Albirex Singapore professional players, Singapore national team players, and in our club's dream, to produce a first Singapore player for our Albirex Japan professional team in the J.League."
Koh was speaking at an MOU signing ceremony between Albirex and Yuhua Community Sports Club (CSC) at Fuhua Primary School, where both parties extended their partnership for another year.
Under this collaboration, a total of $132,183 has been raised over the past seven years, with the club donating $1 to Yuhua CSC for every spectator who attends an Albirex game at Jurong East Stadium.
This helps to fund the Yuhua Albirex Football Academy, which supplies players to the Albirex U-15s, a side coached by Masayuki Kato, Albirex Singapore Soccer School headmaster.
The newly formed U-17s will be led by Yuki Fujimoto, assistant to first-team coach Keiji Shigetomi.
Each side will be made up of Singaporean boys, along with two Japanese teens. Both teams will compete in the Football Association of Singapore's Centre of Excellence leagues, slated to start in June.
From last year's U-15 squad, three players have progressed to the U-17s, while five have been retained as they are still eligible for the younger age group.