Sablon's youth plan gets green light
FAS poised for a revamp that is aimed at repairing pipelines to the national team
His arms were hanging loosely off his shoulders as walked slowly towards the Football Association of Singapore's (FAS) Jalan Besar headquarters.
Michel Sablon looked tense as he walked in for a meeting on his plans for the future of youth development here.
Sources revealed that he had expressed his apprehension to members of his staff before the meeting with the FAS Council.
The Belgian was criticised recently by FAS deputy general secretary Yazeen Buhari after making public statements alluding to the fact the association had not supported his plans.
But it was a different Sablon that walked out of the Jalan Besar conference room alongside FAS council members last night - one who was wearing a broad smile.
Sources confirmed that the shape of Singapore football will take a distinct turn towards repairing youth development pipelines, and ensuring that the net is cast wider, while offering playing opportunities across various age-groups.
While Sablon, 70, did not stop to speak to TNP after the 2½-hour meeting, it is believed the FAS will unveil its development plans soon.
The move to emphasise youth development was welcomed by the football fraternity.
Now it’s key to get our youth development system right because we have not seen many youngsters come up through the ranks, compared to when I was playing.Geylang International coach Noor ali
"I think it is the best move for Singapore football right now," said former Woodlands Wellington coach Shasi Kumar.
"We can forget about the various national teams getting good results for the next 10 years, and someone up there at FAS needs to say it, because that is the reality."
Geylang International coach Noor Ali pointed to V Sundram Moorthy's current national squad as an example of just how faulty the youth development pipeline here is.
"Look at Sundram's squad, still depending on players like Daniel Bennett (39) and Mustafic Fahrudin (36), that's a big worry.
Improving coaching levels should be one of the main goals of the revamp. At the youth level, coaches must be very good, because that’s where things start.Former Woodlands Wellington coach Shasi Kumar
"Now it's key to get our youth development system right because we have not seen many youngsters come up through the ranks, compared to when I was playing,"said the former Singapore international.
"We need to develop young players and inculcate the winning mentality in them too, let's not forget that."
TNP understands that plans for the S.League will also see teams focus on younger footballers, with the FAS poised to implement rules that will see clubs forced to field youth players in every starting line-up.
Clubs will also have to work with schools in the vicinity of their home ground, and in a deeper manner.
Both Shasi and Noor agreed on the point of improving the coaching ability of those who will work with young players.
"I feel that improving coaching levels should be one of the main goals of the revamp. At the youth level, coaches must be very good, because that's where things start," said Shasi.
"If a coach is not at the top of his game, bad habits will form - like it has now - and it will be hard to fix later."
Noor believes it must go even further.
"Youth development is a lot of things, and not just football ability. There is character development, confidence, and even building a winning mentality, because results do count in football," said Noor.
"And we must have all of Singapore football pulling in the same direction - that is key."