FAS needs more support, says Sablon
The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) has been punching above its weight, but it needs even more support to take local football to the next level.
That's the assessment of its new technical director Michel Sablon, whose Belgian blueprint produced footballers like Chelsea's Premier League Player of the Year Eden Hazard and Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany.
In an exclusive interview with The New Paper yesterday, the 67-year-old said: "(The) FAS has achieved much despite not getting the necessary resources.
"However, it is important that every stakeholder in Singapore come together and work as one unit in overcoming the constraints, including limited financial resources.
"There is potential for us to achieve more and I am very confident that we will do so. What we need is the support, resources and time."
Last year, the FAS operated on a budget of $9.7 million.
In contrast, regional neighbours Indonesia spent $112 million, while the budgets of the football federations of Vietnam ($60m), Thailand ($52m) and Malaysia ($35m) also dwarfed the expenses of the FAS.
Despite the constraints, the FAS managed to achieve several key objectives set out in its 2010 Strategic Plan.
It included the setting up of the Junior Centre of Excellence (JCOE) programme for elite footballers aged eight to 12, the refurbishment of the national team's training facility at Geylang Field, and the signing of a six-year, $25-million deal with MP & Silva Group, an international sports media rights company.
It has also consistently been among the top-ranked national sports associations in annual reviews, receiving endorsements from top international football officials like Asian Football Confederation president Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, France Football Federation vice-president Bernard Desumer and Japan Football Association general secretary Kohzo Tashima.
However, the results of the national teams, from the age-groups through to the senior team, have been a low point.
Sablon, though, is undeterred.
He says he is impressed by the work done by FAS in areas like sports science, and pointed to a report produced on injury and young players as something that he found interesting and useful as he develops a coaches' education programme that will be launched later this year.
Above all, Sablon preaches positive thinking.
"In every area of the strategic plan, there has been good work done, so I want to build on those positives," he said.
"That's what I did in Belgium, and even then it took almost eight years.
"The only way to be successful is in the strength of positive thinking. You never (achieve) things as a negative thinker.
"We should not be blind to weaknesses, of course, but we should build up our positives.
"The most difficult thing is not applying new ideas, it's stopping the old ones. Changing the mindset and escaping from the old ways of doing things.
"I hope our stakeholders will have the same attitude of positive thinking to make things happen."