(No headline) - SZHOME06
It is a model the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) hopes will act as a major springboard to develop talented youngsters into future national stars.
It is a facility S-League giants Home United hope will live up to its name, as they prepare to launch the Home United Youth Football Academy (HYFA) on Saturday.
Home's Centre of Excellence (COE) - a sprawling 2.5ha facility boasting two full-sized pitches and 10 futsal ones - is located along Mattar Road in MacPherson and is the first dedicated training facility belonging to an S-League club.
It will be utilised mainly by the Protectors' six COE teams and their Under-21 Prime League team.
Over the years, the club's S-League and Prime League teams have trained at their home ground at Bishan Stadium, which they have to share with recreational joggers and schools holding sports events.
Their COE teams had to work out at various schools at the Bishan-Ang Mo Kio area.
It will all change this year.
Home chairman Anselm Lopez says the HYFA is an important step in the development of youth football for both club and country.
Speaking to The New Paper recently, he said: "The launch of HYFA is a natural step going forward to engage our youth in a more holistic way, completing their football education in a structured manner so that they have more than a good chance to excel at (a higher) stage.
"Any good football institution must have youth football development as the cornerstone of its mission."
Last November, TNP reported that Home were one of three S-League teams - the other two being Warriors FC and Balestier Khalsa - selected by the FAS to run its new centralised COE programme.
As part of the shake-up, the three clubs will run six COE teams - U13, U14, U15, U16, U17 and U18 - up from the previous three (U14, U16 and U18).
Lopez said that the club plan to work closely with the national football body and the Singapore Sports School to develop their own curriculum covering physical development, fitness, nutrition and sports science.
The Protectors' chaiman also hopes that the HYFA will be a place where the club's youth players can spend time after school and before training sessions.
Apart from the football pitches, there is also an event plaza, a gym and recreational space.
"We hope our youth will see HYFA as a place they can come for guidance, support and motivation," said Lopez, adding that the club will work with self-help groups to create early intervention programmes for at-risk youths.
"Excellence requires attention in all areas of youth development, including their academic development.
"Our team of coaches, mentors and technical staff will be on hand to encourage and guide our youth to excel in sports and their studies."
Home's S-League coach Lee Lim Saeng, a former South Korean international defender who played at the 1998 World Cup Finals, hailed the move.
"We are lucky to have this new facility," said Lee, formerly assistant coach at K-League giants Suwon Bluewings.
"In Korea, young players use club's facilities to... sleep, do their schoolwork, and practise.
"Every club have a place like this, so it is comfortable for the young players.It is the same in Japan, and that's why they produce so many good players."
Protectors captain Mohd Noh Rahman, a Singapore international, also hailed the new set-up.
"If I were a young player today, I'd be delighted to have the chance to use these facilities," said the 33-year-old, who came through the youth ranks of another S-League team, Geylang International.
"You'll be even more motivated to train and I'm sure many young players will benefit from this."
A REVOLUTION STARTS AT HOME
"If I were a young player today, I'd be delighted to have the chance to use these facilities... you'll be even more motivated to train."
- Home United captain Mohd Noh Rahman (right) S-LEAGUE