Lion City Sailors Football Academy earns AFC's one-star rating
SPL club's youth set-up is first from Singapore to get Asian body's one-star rating
Lion City Sailors (LCS) Football Academy became the first in Singapore to be given a one-star rating by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) yesterday, an affirmation of their comprehensive youth development programme.
The ranking, which is part of the Asian body's elite youth scheme, has a top grade of three stars. It comes as a boost to the youth set-up of the first privatised Singapore Premier League club, who had announced multi-million dollar development plans in recent months.
Calling the AFC endorsement an honour, LCS Football Academy general manager Tan Li Yu said in a media release: "We are proud to be recognised as a one-star academy, but we are aiming higher.
"This is only the first step on our path towards becoming an elite development hub."
Three months ago, the LCS Football Academy, which grooms players from the age of six to 18, announced a $1 million elite development programme over four years with an inaugural cohort of 25 players, all of whom are aged 12.
All trainees could have a $10 million training facility - comprising six artificial turfs, a clubhouse, gyms, locker rooms and showers - to call home by 2022, reported The Straits Times earlier this month.
All squads will also be supported by nutritionists, sports psychologists and sports doctors.
Training, insurance and apparel costs will be covered for the scholars, with overseas camps and tournaments subsidised at 50 per cent. There will also be financial support in the form of extra cash incentives comprising allowances for transport, books and laptops, and school for selected scholars.
The holistic set-up helped the LCS Football Academy earn AFC's one-star grading, which recognises the fundamentals required for an elite youth academy. Assessment was done across 20 categories, including administration, facilities and programmes, as well as player-centric factors such as welfare, psychology and education.
Football Association of Singapore (FAS) technical director Joseph Palatsides said the AFC's endorsement of the Sailors' academy was made after careful review and assessment.
"They have the required infrastructure and detailed plans in place, which put them in a promising position to be accredited," said Palatsides, who hopes this will bring about a domino effect in the local football ecosystem.
Only two academies in Asia have received the top rating of three stars - Aspire Academy in Qatar and South Korea's Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors Academy.
LCS Football Academy were close to earning a two-star rating, said academy director Luka Lalic.
"We were informed that the academy missed out on the two-star grade because we have yet to involve more specialist staff in our programmes and processes," he said, adding that they will be ready with that soon.
The academy's first batch of scholars will start training upon the completion of the PSLE early next month.
LCS' grading also helped the FAS become a full member of AFC's elite youth scheme, after it passed AFC's 11-point criteria, one of which was having at least a one-star academy.