SportSG partnership with FAS: Building, not sidelining
SportSG's partnership with FAS will see private academies engaged and coaching system developed
The ActiveSG Football Academy sees itself as a mere player in the football eco system in Singapore, and not one that has stepped in to dominate and kill off the competition, said Sport Singapore (SportSG) chief executive Lim Teck Yin.
Fingers have been pointed at the government-funded academy that owns and has first pick of public sporting facilities.
It is able to pay higher wages to big-name coaches with low cost to its trainees - a combination that has reportedly hurt privately run academies.
But Lim insists that this is merely part of a SportSG move to influence every player to up its game, while building a sustainable sporting culture.
"What we are trying to do is influence the shape of the overall football ecosystem. We have to play to our strengths," said Lim, referring to the organisation's ownership of public sporting facilities.
"Everyone has their own perspective and we're listening very carefully to what (the private academies) are saying, but my reaction cannot be to raise prices of the programme," added Lim, reiterating that every one can be part of this eco-system.
He was speaking on the sidelines of an event at the Jurong East Stadium yesterday, where SportSG announced its partnership with the Football Association of Singapore's (FAS) grassroots initiative, the Cubs Programme.
The newly formed "Active Cubs Programme" will see a streamlining of grassroots initiatives, with the FAS providing the curriculum - drawn up by its technical director Michel Sablon - that will be executed by SportSG.
The partnership will see the FAS engage with private football academies, while also providing expertise in the continual education of coaches of the programme.
When The New Paper asked Lim why these partnerships - including potential ones with private academies - were not firmed up even before the launch of the ActiveSG academy, he said that SportSG had to first earn its stripes in the eyes of its primary stakeholders - the FAS and S.League clubs.
Everyone has their own perspective and we're listening very carefully to what (the private academies) are saying, but my reaction cannot be to raise prices of the programme.Sport Singapore (SportSG) chief executive Lim Teck Yin
"It has taken some time to establish capabilities. It was important that we start from ground zero because we did not have the capabilities and prove ourselves to FAS because from the get-go, it's not to say that we are the natural choice for the FAS," said Lim, who revealed that some private academies have already signalled their intention to join as partners.
But now that the point has been proven, the next step will be to engage the rest of the eco-system, with FAS provisional council vice-president Bernard Tan revealing that two consultative clusters - one for non-profit ones like the People's Association Passion Programme, and another for privately run academies will be formed.
And this is important because the FAS does not have the bandwidth to manage the broad operational aspects of grassroots football.
"The FAS is not designed or equipped (to handle) mass engagement. We are in tune with development so we need (other organisations like) ActiveSG to step in and help with the engagement side (of things)," said Tan.
It will instead focus on its own areas of expertise, like coaches' education.
"Even our own coaches today are sometimes not good enough," said Sablon of coaches in the FAS' bullpen.
"2017 is the year of quality control and we need to improve. We still have to improve ourselves even from how the coaches do warm-ups with the kids."
Sablon agreed with Lim's call for a massive rethink on the concept of coaching excellence.
"It does not mean that a good player will be a good coach," said Sablon, who asserted that coaching qualification papers is also not a guarantee that the coach is a quality educator.
"It has been too long that we have been certifying our coaches based on content - we now want to move from a content-based assessment to a competency-based assessment," said Lim, pointing to the hiring of Aleksandar Duric as the principal of the ActiveSG Football Academy.
He asserts that while Duric does not possess a professional coaching diploma, he brings to the table several capabilities that equip him for the job.
Lim called for a "mindset change" within the local coaching fraternity, with the hope that continual education - geared towards practical competency - will take root, with SportSG making moves to modify the assessment of coaches.
At the Jurong East Stadium yesterday, S.League side Hougang United joined the Active Cubs Programme as its ninth training centre, with Albirex Niigata poised to join the ranks as its 10th centre in the near future.