Albirex to field largely local team in FAS U-15 league
Not content with imparting the Japanese brand of football to a few Singapore players, Albirex Niigata are hoping to produce a team of young locals adept at the attractive playing style that has become synonymous with the local-based Japanese club.
The Singapore Premier League (SPL) side, who swept all 11 domestic trophies on offer from 2016 to last year, announced yesterday that they are taking part in the Football Association of Singapore (FAS)'s Centre of Excellence (COE) Under-15 League for the first time.
With the exception of two Japanese boys, the Albirex U-15 team will comprise all Singaporeans, said the club's general manager Koh Mui Tee.
There will also be two Singaporeans in their three-man coaching panel - Matthew Sean and Hyrulnizam Juma'at, who is also a reserve goalkeeper with their SPL team. The third coach is Japanese Ryo Ishibashi.
Said Koh: "We believe in coaching development, too.
"Why? One player will learn the Japanese way of playing and behaving, but one coach can teach one team of players to learn the best practices."
Koh was speaking at the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Albirex and Yuhua Community Sports Club (CSC) at Fuhua Primary School.
As part of the MOU, which is into its seventh year, the club will donate $1 to Yuhua CSC for every spectator who attends an Albirex game at Jurong East Stadium this season. A total of $114,109 has been raised this way over the past six years.
Thanks to the collaboration, the Yuhua Albirex Football Academy (Yafa) has produced over 100 graduates every year since 2014, including some players in Albirex's U-15 team.
The FAS COE U-15 League kicks off in June.