Singapore's youth football teams dogged by administrative issues
Singapore's U-22 side fined for tardiness; U-15 footballers left confused over registration issues
Singapore's national age-group football teams, along with the senior side, have come under fire after a string of poor results in recent times.
The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) has already announced a slew of changes to improve the quality of training and increase the frequency of competitions in a bid to polish the young talents.
But it appears youth football here is also in need of an administrative fix.
At the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-23 qualifiers in Myanmar in July, the national U-22 side were fined thrice, for a total of US$9,500 (S$12,800).
The first (US$2,000) was for delaying kick-off by three minutes, in a game they lost 2-0 to the hosts. The team then incurred a US$2,500 fine for repeating the infraction two days later in a 7-0 loss to Australia at the same venue.
They were fined another US$5,000 after a member of the Singapore delegation got involved in a "minor melee" with some members of the Myanmar team.
Explaining why the U-22 side were late in the game against Australia, FAS technical director Michel Sablon said: "After the warm-up, they came out of their dressing room to start the game, but went the wrong way in the long corridor because the local officer assigned to them wasn't there.
"Eventually, the team were one minute late in accordance to the strict AFC countdown timing."
In response to queries from The New Paper, FAS general manager of youth development S. Varatha Rajan confirmed the fines meted out, but declined to elaborate on the incidents.
"The FAS incurred some fines from the AFC during the 2018 AFC U-23 Championship qualification, for infringements including delaying both the match kick-off time and the second-half kick-off," he said.
The Republic's U-15 side also saw trouble during a training tour to Indonesia in June.
They lost 12-0 to an Indonesian team allegedly fielding older players, but an incident behind the scenes raised eyebrows.
Said 15-year-old midfielder Rohin Ramachandra: "I was warming up when the coach (Sofiyan Hamid) told me that there was a problem. He asked me to take off my jersey and shorts and pass them to Izwan (Chik Awang). I then wore Izwan's jersey.
"I thought it was something normal but, when I asked the manager (Amir Ashraf Rahmat), he said that they did not register Izwan and I had to give my jersey to him so he could play."
Rohin added that he felt confused and frustrated over the boo-boo, but has already moved on. He was dropped from the squad soon after.
In another incident, TNP understands that another player from the same squad took ill just before a match at July's AFF U-15 Championship and was sent back to the team hotel.
Sources revealed that the said player's parents were not informed of the situation and found out only after their son called them, saying he was in pain and wanted to return to Singapore.
Another parent, Murad, the father of U-15 goalkeeper Prima Eldriq, was also upset with administrative procedures involving the team.
He said: "I received a letter saying that my son was going to participate in the AFF tournament, but I found out that he wasn't registered to play at all. He called and told me that.
"He spent two weeks there doing nothing and they said it was a mistake that he wasn't registered. I wrote to FAS, who apologised, but the damage has been done. He was very demoralised."
To that, Rajan said: "Players and officials involved in disciplinary issues or the mismanagement of teams have been dealt with seriously in accordance to the FAS code of conduct.
"For more severe cases, matters will be referred to the disciplinary committee, as with past cases."