More competitions like Epson Cup, please
Geylang coach Hasrin calls for more tourneys like the Epson Cup to develop young footballers
Ten teams, one trophy.
It was two action-packed days of football at SAFRA Tampines.
Yesterday, the inaugural Epson Cup concluded with Valentia CF being crowned champions following a penalty shoot-out victory over Team Alpha in the final.
The seven-a-side, Under-15 tournament was the latest of Epson's community outreach initiatives in the local community, with the winners earning a training stint with Valencia CF Soccer Schools in Singapore later this year.
"For our first Epson Singapore Cup, we are encouraged and impressed by the mettle, skills and sportsmanship the team have shown on the field," said Tan May Lin, the company's General Manager (Sales, Marketing & Customer Service Division).
A STEP CLOSER
"For our young champions, I wish them all the best and may the training stint bring them a step closer towards excellence in football.
"For the rest of the participants, I believe their dedication will not go unnoticed, and they will continue to pursue their passion and dreams in football."
Apart from the tournament, players also received tips and advice from players and coaches from Geylang International, as well as ex-Singapore internationals Lionel Lewis and S Subramani.
"It's a privilege and honour for me to come by and support events like this and it's good that Epson is coming forward to support local football," said Lewis, a two-time Asean champion with over 70 international caps to his name.
"Honestly, I think more can be still done for youth development… In my time, all S.League clubs had different age-group teams and that produces a larger pool of players to develop for the national team.
"Hopefully, more companies can follow Epson by coming forward."
Despite their tender years, the teams showed plenty of fight and desire in their quest to become champions, with both the final and third placing play-off going down to the wire and being decided by penalties.
It is this competitive atmosphere which Geylang coach Hasrin Jailani believes is crucial in the formative years of these youngsters.
The former Singapore midfielder explained: "This is very important because when you train but don't have a game to play, it's completely different.
"To play in a competition is always a good thing, whether you win or lose.
"When you lose, then you learn from there but, even if you win, it's not the end and you still have to keep working hard."
We’re quite impressed with the level but, at the same time, we think that in terms of teamwork and tactically, they can be better. The drills we’ll have for them will be a mix of technical and tactical work, but a lot of it will involve decision making, where the players will need to read the game and understand what is going on.
- Gonzalo Sanz, Valencia CF Soccer Schools’ technical director
Ilyasa's special birthday
His idol is Barcelona star Lionel Messi and his favourite local player is Home United's fleet-footed attacker Faris Ramli.
The two players are undoubtedly the stars of their teams and, inspired by them, 14-year-old Ilyasa Zul Haimi had his own moment of glory at the inaugural Epson Cup at SAFRA Tampines yesterday afternoon.
Following a 0-0 draw in the final of the 7-a-side Under-15 tournament, Ilyasa showed nerves of steel to convert the winning penalty and hand his Valentia CF side a 3-2 shoot-out triumph over runners-up Team Alpha.
It was certainly a moment to savour for the teenager, made all the more special by the fact that it was his birthday yesterday.
"Of course, this is now one of my best birthdays," he told The New Paper.
"It's good to have tournaments like the Epson Cup because I really enjoying playing with my teammates.
"It also helps us to grow as players because competitive football gives us more experience about different situations, so we can learn from them and make the necessary corrections."
The Sengkang Secondary School student was one of several youngsters to impress the local football personalities who graced the event, including former Singapore international and current Geylang International coach Hasrin Jailani.
"With any tournament like this, there will always be at least one or two players who stand out," said Hasrin.
"I've certainly seen a few who have the potential to at least go through the COE (Centre of Excellence) system."
His sentiments were echoed by two-time AFF Championship winner Lionel Lewis, who said: "There are certainly a few quality players here and, hopefully, they can go on to be nurtured into future national team players.
"It's the best time for them to have competitive action because you need to learn how to win and lose, but the main thing is for them to give 100 per cent every time they're on the field."