Singapore youth football not working well, 'needs revamp' - SportSG

With poor results on the international stage at youth and senior level, the main governing body of sports in Singapore has called the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) to channel more resources into the area of youth development.

SportSG says it is time to go back to the drawing board.

"I think what is very clear to most observers, and to the FAS, is that there needs to be a revamp of youth development," SportSG chief excecutive officer Lim Teck Yin told TODAY.

"It's about developing the pipeline, so that the youth talents will continue to play, and go on to feature for the senior national team, and this may require a certain prioritisation of resources in terms of favouring and investing in youth development."

The Singapore national team have suffered successive group-stage exits at the Suzuki Cup, and have yet to win a game in 2017. Similarly, the Young Lions have failed to progress into the knockout stages for the past two editions of the SEA Games, including the recently concluded edition in Kuala Lumpur. They are also still waiting for their first win in this year's S.League.

And Singapore's age-group sides -- from under-14 to under-23s -- managed a paltry 10 wins in 62 attempts.

On Tuesday, the nation suffered a shock 3-1 defeat to their Timor-Leste counterparts in the AFF U18 championship in Myanmar.

Funding for the S.League comes from the Tote Board but is disbursed by SportSG. It is likely to be reduced by nearly 50 percent to S$8.5million from the 2018 season onwards, so there are worries that fewer youngsters will be inclined to pursue professional football careers.

Lim, believes there should be a review of youth development as a whole for Singapore football to prosper again in the long run.

"There's only so much funds available for the whole of football development, so the signals that come out of the FAS in terms of its thinking and plans should be resonating in the direction of youths," he said.

"But just by looking at results and the flow of talent currently, it's clear that neither the senior system nor the junior development system is working that well."

While urging FAS to manage the transition of the local football ecosystem, which may include the possible disbanding of the Garena Young Lions, Lim believes the involvement of more stakeholders is also key.

"I think there are a lot of players in the S.League feeling a bit concerned about the future now, and the FAS needs to manage this," he said.

"There's also been a lot of talk of the Garena Young Lions, and whether they should be disbanded or kept together. If it [disbands] then the transition will also require some management.

"So there's been exchange of views [between SportSG and FAS], and I think we're closer to a point of understanding each other to be able to forge a plan going forward.

"But I would like to suggest that stakeholders who believe that other parts of the [football] ecosystem need support will come on board as well. The more stakeholders who come in to provide that level of support, we'll get [back on track] faster. If you rely purely on public funding, it's going to be a lot slower."

Garena Young Lions suffered a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Tampines Rovers on Tuesday night, their 12th defeat in 15 games this season.