Albirex want to sign more Singaporean footballers
SPL champions aim to have more locals playing in J-League, starting with Adam
As Albirex Niigata (Singapore) midfielder Adam Swandi embarks on his week-long trial with their parent club in Japan today, he could be forging a path for more Singaporean footballers to follow.
Albirex (Singapore) general manager Koh Mui Tee revealed that they are hoping to increase their quota of local footballers from two to four next season.
Adam, 22, and goalkeeper Shahul Rayyan, 23, became the first Singaporeans to join the Japanese club under this season's new rules, which allowed them to sign two Under-23 locals.
Koh told The New Paper: "We have communicated to FAS (Football Association of Singapore) that we wish to double our Singaporean quota next season due to the vast improvement Adam made over the season.
"We aim to have more Singaporean players in the J-League, so the national team will become stronger.
"We hope to have formal discussions with FAS soon about our plans."
We have communicated to FAS that we wish to double our Singaporean quota next season due to the vast improvement Adam made over the season.Albirex (Singapore) general manager Koh Mui Tee
Adam shone brightly as Albirex secured their third consecutive league triumph with six matches to spare, and the club were so impressed by his performances that they decided to let their parent club, who play in Japan's second-tier J2 League, have a closer look at him.
Adam will be on trial along with teammate Hiroyoshi Kamata.
Albirex chairman Daisuke Korenaga said he had been keeping tabs on Adam since he was still a teenager at the Singapore Sports School.
"I like Adam as a player. I met him six or seven years ago," said Korenaga at a press conference last Saturday, before Adam flew off to Japan yesterday morning.
"Six years ago, I took him to (Denka) Big Swan Stadium (the parent club's homeground), for a one-week training stint.
"We took Adam to Niigata two times. The second time, four weeks, only Adam."
Both chairman and player will no doubt be hoping that third time's the charm.
Adam still remembers both his stints in 2012 vividly, how he stood by the side of the main pitch after training with the youth team and watched as fans waited patiently to take photos or request for autographs from the senior players.
This time around, Adam will be on the main pitch.
Said Adam: "This opportunity will definitely help me as a footballer. If things go well, it will be a very positive thing for myself, this club and for the national team."
Koh added: "What the club can do is provide him with the platform for him to try his best...
"Give him the best advice on what to do in Niigata with regards to food, weather, make sure he has a proper place to stay, so he can just concentrate on the football and try his best to earn a contract."
For Korenaga, who told The New Paper two years ago that he hopes to groom Singaporean players for the national team, it was simply a case of walking the talk.
He said: "We are existing for Singapore football, not just for ourselves."
The only other SPL side that offers a J-League trial are Geylang International, who send their promising players for J2 side Matsumoto Yamaga for a closer look.
Through one such trial in February, Geylang defender Anders Aplin secured a loan move to Yamaga last month.