|By Khalis Rifhan
The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) signed its first Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with a football club - La Liga giants Atletico Madrid – at a press conference on Monday, in conjunction with the King’s Cup champions' visit to Singapore for the Singapore Olympic Foundation – Peter Lim Charity Cup.
The Spanish side were represented by club president Enrique Cerezo and CEO Miguel Angel Gil Marin, while FAS president Zainudin Nordin and vice-president Lim Kia Tong were also in attendance.
The MOU between both organisations will provide outstanding young footballers from Singapore and their coaches with opportunities to undergo attachment programmes with the Spanish club.
“We are delighted to have signed an agreement with Atletico Madrid, which will greatly complement our current youth development programmes and other ongoing footballing initiatives,” said Zainudin.
Zainudin is optimistic that this development will see Singapore’s football progress to the next level and maintains that FAS is continuously seeking ways to send its players abroad in order to improve themselves.
“The Atletico Madrid youth academy has produced many high profiles players such as David de Gea and Fernando Torres, and our young players will definitely benefit from this partnership,” he pointed out.
“The FAS is also constantly looking at opportunities for our players to travel overseas to train and play against quality opponents.
“Much work remains to be done and we will continue to develop strategic partnerships with our partners to bring Singapore football to a higher level.”
Atletico president Cerezo echoed Zainudin’s sentiments and believes that the signing of the MOU is start of bigger things to come for both the club and FAS.
“It is an essential part of Atletico Madrid to continue our international relations and have been working for quite some time for this expansion plans,” explained Cerezo.
“Football, due to its relevance and the value that it represents, is a strategic tool to narrow the gap between cultures and therefore we have close ties with people from different countries.
“We are delighted that this trip will be the spearhead to tighten the relations between Singapore and the way forward to consolidate our relationships and hopefully that more supporters in Singapore will follow closely our team.”
After the press conference, Zainudin told media that the upcoming Sports Hub was a huge venue that should be hosting "high-quality" football matches, and called on everyone to "come on board" to raise local football standards together.
"Content is the one [key aspect] we are all looking at and everyone is looking at this together, and hopefully clubs like Atletico and even other big clubs have this opportunity to come [here to play]," he said.
The Singapore Selection, led by LionsXII coach V.Sundramoorthy, will face Atletico Madrid on Wednesday at the Jalan Besar Stadium, with a curtain raiser between ex-internationals and celebrities taking place at 6.20p.m with the main event scheduled for 8p.m.