Sports

Funding size
matters, says 
Thavaneson

It's good that Home United are taking youth development in local football to the next level by launching their own academy.

But constraints like funding have to be tackled before other clubs can follow suit.

That is the view of Balestier Khalsa chairman S Thavaneson, whose club, along with Warriors FC, are the other two selected by the Football Association of Singapore to run the Centre of Excellence (COE) under a revamped system this year.

The veteran football administrator (above) said: "I would like to congratulate Home, who have been able to... develop the COE programme to a professional standard.

"Ultimately, how well a club can run their COE programme will relate to the funds made available.

"The funds provided by the FAS are insufficient to run a top-class programme. But... money is not everything.

COACHING EXPERTISE

"It will give you a headstart, but developing young talent also has to do with a lot of other things, such as coaching expertise."

It is believed that funding for youth development programmes last year was around $110,000 per club.

Operating on a budget that is dwarfed by clubs like Home and Warriors, Balestier are unable to develop a dedicated training facility like Home's youth academy, which will be launched on Saturday.

But the club are reaching out to create partnerships with various schools across the island, which will give them access to football fields and classrooms for their youth teams to utilise.

The Tigers have already secured the support of Bedok South Secondary, Guangyang Secondary, Siglap Secondary and the ITE College Central @ Ang Mo Kio, and are hoping to find two more locations.

Ideally, Balestier hope to have each location act as a "base" for one of their six COE teams, from the Under-13s to the Under-18s.

Said Thava: "We view the revised COE programme not as a simple Balestier project, but a national one.

"That's why not all our schools are restricted to the Toa Payoh-Bishan area."