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Firdaus' Pro-Diploma chance blocked

Singapore coach fails to get FAS support to attend elite course

It has been only a year since he earned his Asian Football Confederation (AFC) A coaching badge, but Firdaus Kassim seems to be going places.  

He found his way into Chainat FC as a staff coach, survived three regime changes, and earned a one-year contract extension at the club, which was recently relegated from the Thai Premier League (TPL).

He has followed in the footsteps of notable Singapore coaches, P N Sivaji (Myanmar), Vincent Subramaniam (India), Mike Wong (Brunei), Robert Lim (Thailand) as well as Fandi Ahmad and V Sundramoorthy, who have flown Singapore's flag abroad.

Firdaus has also been involved with various Singapore national squads, even at the recently concluded AFF Suzuki Cup.

But the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) has decided not to give the 29-year-old the green light to continue his coaching education, for now at least.

While there is an enforced two-year gap between a coach's earning of his A badge and him being allowed to sit for the Pro-Diploma - the highest coaching qualification in Asia - the TPL had deemed it fit to fast-track Firdaus for the Pro-Diploma course that started on Dec 1, along with other promising Thai coaches.

Firdaus required a letter of endorsement from his home governing body to attend the course, but the FAS turned his request down.

In a statement to The New Paper, an FAS spokesman said: "We adopt a systematic and time-based approach in the development of our young coaches who require a certain amount of practical coaching experience and/or hours before they are ready to undergo the next level of coaching courses accredited by AFC.  

"We have an established process under which we will mentor and monitor closely the development of promising coaches. Going forward, we will continue to identify and nominate deserving, committed and talented coaches for various coach educational programmes including courses and overseas attachments in accordance with existing guidelines, frameworks, policies and procedures," continued the statement.

Firdaus paid his own way to earn his AFC A badge last year, during which he learned that he would not be offered a contract with an S.League club.

The former Hougang United Under-18 coach was also poised to foot the S$20,000 bill for the Pro-Diploma course, where he would have joined Thai luminaries like national head coach Kiatisuk Senamuang, Tawan Sripan, Worawut Srimaka and Santi Chaiyaphuak, supervised by Singapore's own Vincent Subramaniam.

But FAS' stance has scuppered Firdaus' opportunity.

TNP understands that Lions' coach V Sundramoorthy worked closely with Firdaus at the recent AFF Suzuki Cup campaign that saw Singapore booted out at the group stages.

During the tournament, veteran defender Baihakki Khaizan pointed to Firdaus as the reason for him being left on the bench, but the FAS spokesman asserted that the incident was not the reason for their decision.

He moved to clarify that Firdaus was not aiding Sundram in a coaching capacity.

"It should be noted that his primary role as a game analyst at the Suzuki Cup was to analyse matches and opponents according to Sundram's requirements," said the spokesman.

"This role requires different skills sets as compared to being a head coach of an elite senior team, and it would not be appropriate to compare his four-week experience with the national team with the requirements of the AFC Pro-Diploma course."