Singapore's brightest football talents set for stints in Europe
In Feb 2013, Adam Swandi jetted off to France for a two-year stint with FC Metz, in what was a first-of-its-kind move arranged for a local teenage footballer.
Now, more are set to follow in his footsteps.
The New Paper understands the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) is lining up talented youngsters from its various national age-group teams for similar stints in Europe.
Some of boys on the shortlist include National Football Academy Under-15 players Joel Chew, Benjamin Davies and Glenn Kweh, U-16 striker Saifullah Akbar, U-17 forward Hami Syahin and U-18 midfielder Joshua Bernard Pereira.
These boys could soon go off to train and study at clubs in France or Spain. The FAS will foot the bill by drawing on its Football Development Fund which was set up in 2012.
Said FAS technical director Michel Sablon: "First, we should evaluate a player who is able to play at a higher level.
"Because when he goes to Metz, Valencia, or Paris St Germain... He will need to think faster, run quicker, pass more accurately,and be tactically better.
"The second thing is to manage them well when they are there.
"After all, they are teenagers, children, and the most important thing is to create a learning environment for them over there."
The Belgian, the mastermind behind his country's hugely successful football development programme, added: "We must continue to groom our players and also secure the money to send them and their teams on overseas training camps and to participate in international and invitational competitions.
"This will give them the much-needed international exposure."
Adam, who is now 19, made his debut for the senior national team against Myanmar just four months after leaving for France.
He returned to Singapore earlier this year, played for the national U-23 team at June's South-east Asia Games and enlisted for National Service earlier this month.
Swandi Kitto, his father who was a former international striker, said: "I am very happy to hear that FAS is now in the midst of discussions with European clubs to place some of our best boys on training and attachment programmes.
"The time Adam spent at Metz helped him grow further as a footballer.
"Our youngsters must continue to work hard and should always grab the opportunity to train or play for a European team.
"Only then can they push themselves to the limit and develop better as players."
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