Sports School and J-League club Omiya Ardija link up for exchange programme
Sports School inks partnership with J-League club to develop players and coaches
Around 14 players from the Singapore Sports School (SSP) will say "ohayo gozaimasu" (good morning in Japanese) when greeting their counterparts from J-League football club Omiya Ardija today, in the Japanese city of Saitama.
The Singapore school and the professional football club have linked up with an exchange programme after signing a two-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) last Sunday.
The exchange programme will see four Sports School footballers train and compete with Omiya's team for a month each year.
Omiya will also host one Sports School team annually, allowing the side to use their facilities, while providing opportunities for friendly games.
"The level of football development in Japan is high, and Omiya Ardija have a high quality youth football programme that will complement the Sports School's focus on long-term athlete development," said Sports School principal Tan Teck Hock, who was in Saitama last weekend to sign the MOU.
"Omiya Ardija are a compatible and long-term partner for Singapore Sports School, and I am excited about the opportunities this partnership will bring for the Sports School."
The MOU will see coaches from both sides benefit by sharing methodologies, ideas and experiences, and the J-League club - who won the second-tier J2 League title on Monday - will help Sports School review and improve their football programme.
In addition, the Woodlands-based institution will help Omiya pilot a football outreach programme here.
The two parties previously met in 2010 and 2013, and the MOU signing is a follow-up to the recent strategic review of the school, where one recommendation is to expose the Sports School's student-athletes to more top-notch coaching and training programmes.
The school already has a partnership with S.League club Home United, who help them plan, develop and execute their football programme, and provides opportunities for the school's footballers to join Home's youth academy.
The 14 Sports School footballers, who are from the Under-14 and U-15 sides, left last night for Japan, and will stay there till Dec 7.
They will join their teammates Joel Chew, Jordan Nicholas Vestering, Mohamad Hamizan Mohamad Hisham and Muhamad Firas Muhamad Irwan, who are already in Saitama training with the club under the agreement.
Teng Wei Ken, who heads the Sports School's football academy, said: "Selected Sports School footballers will be exposed to Omiya's style of play, which emphasises higher levels of teamwork, fitness, discipline, speed and technical skills.
"Our coaches will also benefit from sharing best practices with our Japanese counterparts who excel in the area of youth coaching.
"We know that the experiences and exposure gained by our footballers from this exchange programme will raise the quality of football in Sports School and Singapore.
"The partnership with Omiya Ardija will also open up more opportunities for Sports School footballers to pursue a professional career in the J.League."