New training facility for football
Stange pleased as Jurong and Yishun stadium open up, while Geylang field gets spruced up
His first year in office has not been all plain sailing.
National football coach Bernd Stange has had to deal with players who were distracted by commitments outside of football and athletes who could not match his standard of fitness.
And he worked hard to address one of his biggest bugbears - poor training facilities.
One year into the job and the 66-year-old German is happy to see progress.
Work is already being done on the training field at Geylang Lorong 12, and two more are being developed.
"There is a big improvement in football training facilities but it is only coming in October, November. But still, it is good, the machines from Brazil are already here and working on the field," Stange told The New Paper.
"The LionsXII will move to the old Jurong Stadium and the Courts Young Lions will go to Yishun Stadium where there will be daily maintenance."
Stange is on a mission to get his Lions to play possession-based pass-and-move-football, but had earlier expressed his disappointment over training facilities here.
With the Jalan Besar Stadium being shared with the S.League and hence heavily utilised, both the LionsXII and the Courts Young Lions were forced to move around training venues, sometimes at late notice.
A meeting with the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) executive council last week has given Stange confidence that support will be forthcoming on several issues, including a proposed increase in player training hours.
But there is still more than can be done.
"Even though I am happy with our progress and that we are on track in our FAS Strategic Plan, I must emphasise the three key areas we need to improve on: the training frequency of our players, the number of good training facilities - and funding," he said.
The FAS annual budget of $8.8 million pales in comparison to regional governing bodies.
According to 2012 figures, Japan ($264 million), China ($180 million), Indonesia ($112 million) and Malaysia ($35 million) all have deeper pockets.
"We hope to secure more funding with corporations in order for us to carry out our plans for our players and help them to reach their fullest potential," said Stange, the former Iraq and Belarus coach.
"More funding will also allow our various age-group national teams to travel overseas and play more matches against quality opponents, which is paramount for the development of the teams and players."
Things are starting to fall into place, and by his own admission, Stange is beginning to "really enjoy" his time in the Republic.
He relishes helping to guide local coaches who he says must eventually take over the national team.
That is not to say he is already thinking about his future.
"I don't think longer than the 2015 South-east Asia Games," said Stange, whose two-year contract comes to an end next year, with an option for another two-year extension.
While heartened by the fact the authorities here are willing to listen to what he needs to engineer success, Stange says Singapore football needs to wake up to the fact that its neighbours are improving.
"Even if we don't get more funding, at least we need players for training, and facilities, because you have to know that opponents are not sleeping, they are moving," said Stange.
"And we must move, too, as much as we can."