A PLACE TO LEARN AND GROW
The newly-launched Home United Youth Football Academy (HYFA) has big plans to develop football players who can shine not only on the local scene, but also in the international arena.
Ambitious it may sound, but Philippe Aw, Youth Football Coordinator for HYFA, is confident that the new youth set-up can do just that.
He said: "We want to develop players who are good enough to play in the S-League or with the LionsXII.
"But, beyond that, we also want to develop players who are good enough to play in the big leagues around the world, too.
He said: "It won't be easy. It will take a long process of analysing their performances, fitness and attitudes."
The HYFA, located along Mattar Road in MacPherson, was officially opened yesterday by Senior Minister of State Masagos Zulkifli, who is also the patron of Home United.
In his speech in front of the Protectors, their benefactors and about 50 youth players, Mr Masagos hailed the HYFA as a beacon of hope for Singapore's youth.
He said: "It's not just about the turf or infrastructure. My sincere hope is that this kind of youth academy is replicated with the other teams and will develop great players for the future.
"This is only the beginning. I'm convinced that HYFA will be a beacon for a new era of football."
Home's S-League and Prime League teams have traditionally trained at their home ground at Bishan Stadium, sharing the space with the public.
But, with the official unveiling of this sprawling 2.5ha facility that houses two full-sized and 10 futsal pitches, the Protectors can now fully concentrate on training their six Centre of Excellence (COE) teams and Under-21 Prime League team.
Aw believes that the HYFA will be able to serve as a training ground for the Young Protectors as well as a learning place for youth in general.
He said: "This is the vision we have for our academy - to not only benefit Home United in developing the youth players who will rise up the ranks, but also for the good of Singapore in teaching our youth to become wholesome individuals."
The coordinator also explained that once HYFA is fully up and running, the Young Protectors will be nurtured by coaches from Home's COE and their assistants.
He also said that there are plans to send the youth players overseas to expose them to tougher competition.
Protectors captain Noh Rahman believes that the new academy will benefit not only the Young Protectors in the programme, but also anyone who is interested in playing the game.
"Growing up with football has shaped me to be the man I am today and, through the new academy, today's youth will enjoy a better playing and learning experience than I did," the 33-year-old said in his speech.
He told the young players: "This is your time to shine. Work hard commit yourself to your studies, your team and the game. Live the dream."