Fill Me In
Singapore’s first privatised professional football club, the Lion City Sailors (LCS) Football Academy, is now also the first academy in Singapore to earn an endorsement from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
What is the AFC?
LCS received a one-star grading, the first in a three-tier system with a maximum rating of three stars from the Elite Youth Scheme. Academies are rated on 20 performance categories, including administration, facilities and programmes, player welfare, mental health, and education.
One-star academies are recognised in meeting the fundamentals of an elite youth academy in an 11-point evaluation. There are only two academies in Asia to receive a three-star rating: Aspire Academy in Qatar, and Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC Academy in South Korea.
Tan Li Yu, general manager of the academy, called the endorsement from AFC “an honour, and [it is] validation of the systems and processes [at LCS]”.
“We are proud to be recognised as a one-star academy, but we are aiming higher. This is only the first step for the LCS Football Academy on our path towards becoming an elite development hub,” he said.
According to academy director Luka Lalic, the academy just missed out on a two-star rating. “We were informed that the academy missed out on the two-star grade because we have yet to involve more specialist staff in our programmes and processes,” he said.
LCS developments to come
The academy, which grooms aspiring professional football players from the ages of six to 18, have been focusing resources into youth development in recent months. The Sailors are helmed by Forrest Li, the chief executive officer, chairman, and founder of Sea, a local Internet company that owns the LCS Football Academy.
Li committed $1 million over the next four years to the development of the academy through its selection of an inaugural cohort of 25 players. The $1 million would go towards training, insurance, football kits, and subsidies for camps and tournaments. Selected scholars will also receive additional cash incentives to cover schooling needs, such as transport, books, and laptops.
Earlier this month, the academy also announced its plans to build its own $10 million training facility by 2022. The facility will have six artificial turfs, a clubhouse, locker rooms and showers, and functional and recovery gyms.
Its first batch of scholars are expected to begin training upon the completion of the Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE) on 7 October.