Football Association of Singapore (FAS) President Zainudin Nordin has identified seven youngsters with the potential to go for overseas stints, using the Football Development Fund.
Speaking during a MediaCorp Suria Channel interview last week, Zainudin revealed that there are plans to get other youths to follow in the footsteps of Adam Swandi to play in foreign countries such as Japan or Europe.
“Adam Swandi is the first player to get the [Football Development Fund] scholarship to play in Europe that allows him to develop his talent overseas,” Zainudin said.
“Other than Adam, we have about seven people earmarked [like] Mahathir [Azeman], Muhaimin [Suhaimi], Ammirul [Emmran], Ikhsan Fandi, [and] Irfan Fandi.
“We’re looking at them to see how we can give them a better opportunity in the future."
However, Zainudin also explained how football development isn’t the only consideration when deciding to go overseas, with studies also requiring an equal importance as well.
“We have to consider their academic development as well,” Zainudin admitted.
“This is a consideration for their parents as well as the FAS, as we must think of the future of these players too.”
With youngsters now having the opportunity to go overseas, evidently there will be a risk of them not wanting to come back to play for Singapore. But it is not something that Zainudin is too concerned about.
“Look at [Shinji] Kagawa,” Zainudin said as he used the Japanese superstar to make his point.
“He plays in Manchester United and previously for [Borussia] Dortmund. He is not just a footballer, but also the pride of the nation.
“It shows that a player from Japan can really play. It brings aspirations and motivations to the generation [of youths] in Japan.
“This is the hope for young footballers in Singapore. We shouldn't look at it negatively, but positively that many of our Singaporean footballers are emerging talents and are continuing to develop overseas.”
With all hype about youth, it is no surprise then that Zainudin feels that the development of the youth programs has been his greatest achievement as FAS president so far.
“The program we are proud of most is the program of improving youth development that is now more solid and structured,” Zainudin said.
“I am proud and confident of the youth development program that is put in place. We want to continue to have a system to produce new talent.
“The success of Adam Swandi, Hariss Harun and Safuwan [Baharudin] are examples. We want to build a foundation that works, such as getting players involved in the MSL [Malaysia Super League].
“I feel proud, but the success is due to the work done before. We want to build the building blocks and continue to build on the future.”