Two young footballers to go on Japan training stint
They could not believe their ears when they were told that they would be travelling to Niigata, Japan, for a footballing stint at the Albirex Football School.
Yuhua Albirex Football Academy (YAFA) players Muhammad Danial, 12, and Tan Yu Hen, 13, will embark on a week-long football and cultural exchange from Sept 2 to 10, as part of an initiative under the Albirex Sports Development Fund (ASDF).
Introduced in November last year, the ASDF is an agreement between Yuhua Community Sports Club (CSC) and Albirex Niigata to further enhance ties between Singapore and Japan through football.
Speaking to The New Paper, Danial, a Swiss Cottage Secondary School player, is looking forward to what will be his first training stint in Japan.
He said: "This is a big opportunity for me. I really could not believe it when they said I was chosen for this trip. I have been playing football since I was eight, and I am really happy to be learning from the Japanese players in Japan.
"Secondary school football is hard, so I hope to learn as much as I can and work on my ball control, so that I can come back and pass on what I have learnt to my teammates."
Albirex general manager Koh Mui Tee said the initiative is the first of many to come from the Japanese outfit.
Koh said: "We will definitely try to send players from the academy every year, and we plan to continue this programme as long as we have the backing of sponsors and funding.
"It is our dream to have Singaporeans playing for Albirex Niigata in the J.League. It will be a fairy tale for us if one of the YAFA boys make their way up the ranks to play for the Albirex Singapore team, before playing for the team in Japan."
Chairman of Yuhua CSC, Lim Chock Sing, is feeling excited about the programme, and hopes that even more young players can benefit from it.
Lim said: "We are definitely excited about this because there is a possibility of sending even more players on trips like this.
"We will be working very closely with the club to evaluate how effective the stint is when Danial and Yu Hen come back.
"This is a first in our flourishing partnership with Albirex and we are grateful."