Players need good development and growth opportunities, says minister Lawrence Wong

Speaking in Parliament, the acting minister also acknowledged that balance is needed between local footballers staying here to develop and going overseas to ply their trade.
By Teng Kiat

Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong has said that top local footballers need to see that they have reasons to stay in Singapore to further their development.

Mr Wong was responding in Parliament on Monday to queries from MP for Jurong GRC, Ang Wei Neng, about what measures were being taken to ensure players were being retained, in light of regional clubs offering them more lucrative contracts.

"The best way to retain our players is to make sure they have good development and growth opportunities in Singapore, such as playing in the LionsXII team in the Malaysian Super League, or for various S-League teams,” he said.

The minister, who also said that the Singapore Sports Council was currently working with the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) to conduct a review of football development here, did however acknowledge the benefits of an overseas move.

“We recognise that professional players do sometimes relish the exposure they can gain from an overseas stint. If they play better as a result, they can still contribute to the national team when they are called upon for international matches,” he explained.

Mr Wong went on to add that the national football team, who won the recent 2012 AFF Suzuki Cup, could help further promote the sport by reaching out to youth.

"I've actually been engaging and talking to FAS, and encouraging them to get more of our national players to go out to schools, speak to students and conduct soccer clinics,” he revealed.

“[This way], we can motivate and inspire more young students to take up football, and to hold them up as role models, so that more young students are inspired by what our Lions are doing.”