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Opening Ceremony of the Lion City Sailors Training Centre

The importance of high-quality sporting infrastructure and its impact on the youth football ecosystem

Mr Forrest Li, Chairman, Lion City Sailors, 
Mr Roy Quek, Chairman, SJI International, 
Mr Lim Kia Tong, President, Football Association of Singapore,
Distinguished Guests, 
Ladies and Gentlemen
And most importantly, Sailors, 
  1. Good evening. I am so glad to join all of you today at the opening ceremony of the Lion City Sailors (LCS) Training Centre. 
  2. Importance of High-quality Sporting Infrastructure

  3. Let me start by offering my warmest congratulations to Forrest and his team on the opening of the LCS Training Centre.
    1. When we look back on this someday in the future, we will see this as the start of something special.
    2. I saw the plans earlier, and I was quite blown away!
    3. I am glad to see it is now completed.
  4. This will be Singapore’s first fully integrated football training centre.
    1. It will boast three FIFA-certified pitches, facilities for sports science which is a gamechanger, sports medicine, video analytics, and most importantly, study rooms for youth players in the LCS Academy. This will ensure that whilst they make headway on the football field, they continue to maintain a baseline of academic excellence as well.
    2. I believe all these are key ingredients for success, when nurturing and developing young talent.
  5. Indeed, good facilities and a strong infrastructure, coupled with the belief in the ability to nurture young talent, are paramount for the development of football in Singapore.
    1. I am glad that LCS continues to demonstrate its long-term commitment to supporting and developing our local football scene through this state-of-the-art facility. Like what we see here, it is investing in the mindshare. Not just the hardware, but the software, the mindshare, and making sure that we really develop our youths.
  6. This Training Centre will complement and strengthen our overall plans to bring more high-quality sports facilities and infrastructure to Singaporeans in the coming years.
    1. For instance, we are on track to completing the Kallang Football Hub, to serve as the home-ground for Singapore football.
    2. I went to visit last week.
    3. This Hub will be located within the Kallang Alive precinct.
    4. You would have seen pictures of the beautiful pitch in the first phase of this project completed just this month.
    5. Kallang Alive will be an exciting 89-hectare development that will transform the Kallang River and Kallang Basin district into a vibrant sport, entertainment, and lifestyle destination by 2030.
    6. The Kallang Football Hub will feature three 11-a-side pitches, including Singapore’s first sheltered full-sized synthetic pitch and several sheltered futsal pitches.
    7. This will make it the ideal location for our national training centre and the ActiveSG Football Academy.

    Impact on our youth football ecosystem

  7. These infrastructural investments by both the private and public sectors, a partnership of equals, bode well for our youth football ecosystem.
    1. It will support our efforts through the Unleash the Roar! project, which include 10 School Football Academies (or SFAs) in secondary schools across the island.
    2. We just launched the SFAs.
    3. Thus far, over 300 students have enrolled in these academies, and we are on track to open six more academies by 2026.
  8. We are all here because we recognise the importance of training from the basics and developing footballers from an early age. It is in this way that we can nurture and develop a strong pipeline of football players.
    1. One key way to nurture our youth footballers is to provide them opportunities to spar with the very best from overseas.
    2. The key is to play against top tier opponents, constantly challenging yourself to do better.
    3. And LCS understands this.
    4. LCS has signed multi-year partnerships with Borussia Dortmund and Feyenoord [Faa-yer-nort] Rotterdam. The LCS youth team will have access to training camps and coaching exchanges.
    5. This will allow the players to learn directly from the famous European football academies.
      1. One example of this is the six-week training stint that the LCS youth team embarked on in end-2021, playing 11 matches in 42 days, taking on top quality opposition in Germany and Netherlands. These are amongst two most decorated countries on football and football development.
      2. The young Sailors did us so proud by notching six wins and a draw in that stint. 
  9. I am also heartened to know that beyond the pitch, LCS will also support our young footballers in their endeavours off the pitch.
    1. I understand that LCS is in discussions with SJI International on efforts to help our young footballers better balance their obligations to their studies with their aspirations as budding footballers.
    2. LCS is also sponsoring the full cost of tertiary education for eligible players from the LCS Academy.
    3. It will also be paying the National Service early enlistment bond for talented young players to complete their national service at a younger age, so that they can have a clearer pathway to focus on their development and fulfil their aspirations.
      1. One of these players is Yasir Nizamuddin, a 17-year-old LCS youth player. Yasir studied at Victoria School and qualified to enter a junior college.
      2. However, he has decided to fulfil his National Service obligations first, so he can fully focus on his football career from the age of 19.
    4. LCS has also arranged for players like Yasir to receive an individualised training programme even as he serves his National Service.
    5. This will only complement their access to the Training Centre, where they will benefit from coaches on the pitch, maintain their fitness in the gym, meet their nutrition, all from one centralised location.
  10. I am confident that with the support of LCS and its partners, talented youngsters like Yasir will set a fine example and blaze a new trail for youngsters in the future.
  11. Unifying Power of Sports

  12. Sport has a tremendous, remarkable, innate ability to unite our nation and lift our spirits. Football occupies a very special place in all our hearts.
    1. We saw this at the semi-finals of the ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup last year, where we rallied behind the Lions as they grit their teeth against our Indonesian rivals.
    2. Fearless, competitive, playing for our country.
    3. There was a palpable and electrifying sense of pride when thousands of fans rose to sing our national anthem. 
    4. I honestly could not remember the last occasion where that happened spontaneously. As one people, whether in the stadium or outside the stadium. Everyone celebrated that occasion! And imagine if we had won. 
    5. We celebrate sport, not because of what each player can do on the pitch, or the performance of each individual player. It is because of the intangible, inspirational feeling that it can give us, and unite us as a country.
  13. In that respect, the Government is committed to developing and promoting sport in Singapore towards these outcomes.
    1. We will continue to keep our sports facilities, programmes and activities open and accessible to all Singaporeans. Not just at the elite level, but also at the grassroots level.
    2. We will continue to build a strong sporting culture here, uniting everyone in that ecosystem. 
    3. I look forward to the programmes that will be hosted at this Training Centre, including the ActiveSG Football Academy Sailors Development Centre. 
  14. Beyond sporting excellence, the LCS Training Centre has the potential to bring members of the community here at Macpherson closer together, inspiring the community to do even better and inspire social cohesion.
    1. This will serve as a fine example of how the sporting fraternity can leverage infrastructure to provide and promote community bonding and cohesion.
  15. In closing, I want to congratulate LCS for their spectacular training centre. It is not just the hardware that matters to LCS, but the intrinsic software, the heartware. And I think that makes all the difference.
  16. My warmest congratulations to all of you!
  17. Let us continue working together to not just unleash but feel to the Roar as we take Singapore football to the next level.
  18. Thank you.
Last updated on 02 August 2022