ActiveSG Football Academy aims to teach more than football skills
ActiveSG Football Academy to teach children more than just playing skills
Barcelona's famous slogan "More than a club" signifies their commitment to the Catalan society beyond sport.
Perhaps, a parallel could be drawn between the Spanish football giants and the ActiveSG Football Academy, which was launched at the Jurong East Stadium yesterday morning.
Headed by ex-Lion Aleksandar Duric and assisted by former national captain Terry Pathmanathan, the football programme aims to better youngsters - aged six to 12 - on and off the pitch.
The academy programme will adopt its core syllabus from the Football Association of Singapore Grassroots Manual that was developed by its technical director Michel Sablon.
It will also incorporate Sport Singapore's expertise in the area of character development through sport, including elements from SportSG's "Game for Life" toolkit.
Duric said: "It is not enough in age-group football to just focus on the technical aspect of the training.
"At the ActiveSG Football Academy, we will also teach important values such as discipline, respect and teamwork to our participants as well as equip them with valuable life skills."
Some 500 participants of both genders will form the inaugural batch, who will take part in 14 sessions over five weeks, starting on May 28.
Participants may use $39 worth of their ActiveSG credits to offset the $130 programme cost.
Five training centres have been established in stadiums in Bedok, Jurong East, Queenstown, Serangoon and Woodlands, with free trial clinics these two months before the programme starts.
SportSG chief executive Lim Teck Yin said: "There are many boys and girls in Singapore who enjoy playing football, but may not have the best platform to further their development and understanding of the sport, especially if they are not part of their school team.
"The academy will provide children in Singapore, in school teams and otherwise, with a consistent and systematic approach to learning football as they start out; and progressively guide them along as they grow older."
In addition, current and former national footballers such as Gabriel Quak, Lionel Lewis, Quah Kim Song and Razali Saad will serve as Team Singapore Sports Ambassadors and interact with the academy players.
In a partnership with Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League club Tampines Rovers, the Stags will provide coaches to help conduct the academy programme.
Senior players from the club will also make guest appearances, and the club will offer academy players a matchday experience that includes stadium tours and half-time kick-abouts.
Tampines chairman Krishna Ramachandra said: "I am extremely supportive of this programme and collaboration because it hits the spot - the true development of football to be holistic and embrace all quarters.
"So what ActiveSG academy presents is an enrichment of this sector of the footballing ecosystem."
Fifty volunteer coaches - 10 for each training centre - will be selected and groomed by Duric under the "Play It Forward" initiative as well.
Some 350 youngsters took part in a clinic yesterday at Jurong East as part of the launch, with Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu in attendance.
She said: "I am happy to note that the Academy has already received strong support from former Team Singapore players and other partners.
"In time to come, we will have a wider talent pool, and a stronger, more cohesive football community."