Bring Kadir in please, FAS
MSL-winning coach Sundram says former Singapore defender should be assistant technical director
There is less interest in the appointment, compared to the naming of a new national coach, but a top-quality technical director in football is crucial if a country is serious about improving the production line of talent at various levels.
I am keen to find out who the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) will name as its technical director after the departure of Slobodan Pavkovic.
The importance of the role cannot be overstated as the person constructs the infrastructure of the sport and determines the process of scouting and developing young talent across the country.
While the FAS will appoint a foreign expert, I believe we should also look at a local understudy.
Like most other nations, Singapore has its own football culture and system, with youngsters having to pursue their dreams while juggling schoolwork or National Service.
A local deputy technical director will understand this immediately and can smoothen the transition for the new man.
My pick for the role is my former Singapore teammate and assistant coach, Kadir Yahaya.
Yes, he is a good friend, but I have known him for a long time and am very familiar with his ability and work ethic.
Kadir is a 46-year-old Singaporean who has spent his life in football, and he knows the culture and mentality of footballers here.
He is not just a good coach, he is also a top educator; a true disciplinarian.
His achievements have been well noted.
He was an accomplished defender for the national team during his playing days that stretched throughout the 1990s.
Kadir then became a coach and turned out an Under-15 side that rocked the country at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games here in 2010, when they clinched the bronze medal.
He was a crutch as my assistant when the LionsXII competed in the Malaysian Super League (MSL) for the first time in 2012.
More importantly, the former defender has an unerring eye for talent.
A number of players in the national set-up right now, like goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud, midfield star Hariss Harun and forward Gabriel Quak, were all members of his Under-16 team in 2005.
Kadir has also coached at schools' level (with St Joseph's Institution) and that experience can help him devise an effective football calendar so that students can play the sport without distractions.
There are so many areas where Singapore football can improve, and I have always believed that youngsters need to play more games starting in school.
The National Football Academy coaches, in turn, need to be active in scouting these players.
SKILLS AND KNOWLEDGE
There is a lot of young talent in Singapore, and the new technical director, supported by the FAS, will be counted on to produce a blueprint that includes catching the talent and keeping them interested.
Kadir is armed with the tools to do all that.
We must try and get the best out of his considerable skills and knowledge of the game.
If he can act as an understudy to the new technical director, Kadir will surely benefit from working with a top-class football mind who is full of experience.
Kadir can eventually be groomed to take over the job to ensure the infrastructure and programmes that have been put in place are maintained, and tweaked, to continue to bear fruit.
I believe that is the kind of well-oiled ecosystem everyone's after.
Not since PN Sivaji assisted Jan Poulsen from 1999 to 2003 have we had an understudy for the technical director's position.
I hope the FAS brings back this concept.
These are exciting times for Singapore football.
FAS's recent partnership with MP & Silva also promises much in terms of talent development and better games for the various national teams.
I am proud of Safuwan Baharudin, who I saw blossom into a star with the LionsXII and is now on loan at A-League side Melbourne City.
Of course, I would like to wish my friend and former teammate, Fandi (Ahmad), and my former team, the LionsXII, all the best as they get set for the new MSL season.
I will be working hard to get my new team Tampines Rovers firing again in the S.League, but I will be cheering them on as well as they look to make their mark in Malaysia's club competitions this year.
● Sundram was speaking to ALI KASIM