‘Unleash the Roar’ initiative to have 8 pillars
Called 'Unleash the Roar', initiative includes school academies, scholarships and national service concessions
Singapore's budding football talents could be set for scholarship stints with Borussia Dortmund or a La Liga side, as part of a new Government initiative to raise the standard of the sport here.
Titled "Unleash the Roar", it was unveiled in Parliament yesterday by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) Edwin Tong.
Mr Tong admitted "our football is not quite where we would like it to be" but highlighted the sport's "mass appeal" and ability to bring "together Singaporeans from all walks of life".
He said: "A national team that can perform at the highest level affirms Singapore's multiple pathways of success, and is a source of national pride."
A part of the Unleash the Roar project is Singapore's bid to qualify for World Cup 2034, which was first mooted by Mr Tong in August 2019, when he was vice-president of the Football Association of Singapore (FAS), before his ministerial appointment.
That announcement came more than 20 years after Singapore's last grand plan to qualify for World Cup 2010. First unveiled in 1998, it failed to come to fruition, leading to some scepticism of the 2034 target.
Project details are expected to be unveiled by the FAS and national sports agency Sport Singapore today.
MCCY's Unleash the Roar initiative announced yesterday has eight pillars.
They include a standardised National Football Curriculum for primary schools; School Football Academies in secondary schools and an elite youth league; local and foreign scholarships; and national service concessions.
Regarding scholarships, Parliamentary Secretary for Culture, Community and Youth Eric Chua said: "FAS is in discussions with overseas football institutions such as La Liga, Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund as well as Australian colleges such as Maribyrnong College.
"Locally, we will work with clubs such as the Lion City Sailors to provide similar opportunities."
On national service, he added: "MCCY is working with Mindef to tap support avenues for eligible footballers, including early enlistment, leave and time-off for NSFs to train, as well as opportunities to continue training and playing at the very top levels while fulfilling their NS obligations."
For Tan Meng Wei, whose daughter Danelle, 16, plays for the national women's team and son Merrick, 15, is in the Sailors' youth set-up, the news about NS concessions and overseas scholarships were of particular interest.
The 48-year-old chief executive told The New Paper: "The support mentioned would eradicate a lot of the reasons youths and their parents have against pursuing football further.
"I, for one, would be very interested in the changes in NS for my son as well as overseas scholarships for both my daughter and son to turn professional."
Danelle added: "I'm really excited to see what this project has in store for Singapore football. I hope that it can bring more overseas opportunities for us players and bring the standard of women's football here to new heights."
The initiative's other pillars are enhanced technical capacity and capability; the adoption of a technology-rich and data-driven approach; improving existing infrastructure and maximising playable areas; and a call for a "whole-of-society" partnership.
Former national midfielder Goh Tat Chuan, a key player of the 2004 Tiger Cup-winning squad, believes the execution of the initiative and parental buy-in are key to the outcome of Unleash the Roar.
Said the 47-year-old regional sales director: "Execution is everything if you ask me... putting down on paper a strategy, getting consultants to look at this as a whole is always the easiest part...
"You're looking at Primary 3 up to Primary 6 level. So when they reach 2034, they will be at their peak... Parents of (kids in) that age group would need to buy into this particular programme for it to succeed."
One parent who fits that demographic is Maslinda Sabtu, whose 11-year-old son is in the ActiveSG Football Academy.
Said the 37-year-old educator: "Parents should actually align themselves with their children... to have a growth mindset. Because if they have a fixed mindset, that hinders the child's development, not only in football, but also academically."
8 PILLARS OF 'UNLEASH THE ROAR'
- National Football Curriculum
- School Football Academies
- Local and foreign scholarships
- National service concessions
- Technical capacity and capability
- Sports science and data
- Whole-of-society partnership