Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Forcing clubs will do nobody any good

I have been writing many POV this past week and it is taking up too much time so this will be last one, even if something do corp up, until after Chinese New Year.

The reason I wrote this one is because I found I never wrote any POV on COEs so when this one crop up, I thought I might as well write one.

With youth progamme talks now the rage, the Straits Times has reported FAS has a solution to the youth development problem and that is by forcing every clubs to develop one. 

It is reported that all nine local S-League clubs - including expected returnees Tanjong Pagar United - will be required to form their own centres of excellence (COEs) by next year.

My view is it will do nobody any good as the problem is money and without it, clubs will never do a good job of it.

Anybody who has a good memory will remember Jurong FC COEs which was ridicules as a waste of time and money.

Jurong FC management admitted they had a COEs programme because of the rules at that time thus they had to develop one.

In all those years, Jurong FC were in the S-league - 1997 until 2003 - not a single players were promoted to the S-league from their youth programme and their youth team can be easily ranked the worst ever.

It helped nobody as Jurong FC was not interested in the COEs progamme because of the lacked of funding.

Also, that feeling soon spread to more and more clubs and that is why the moment the rule changes, clubs saw no point running COEs.

And, even if they - meaning the clubs who dropped the COEs - were running COEs now, let be honest, how many players will make it out from those clubs to be even a S-league player let alone be a Lions player.

My solution has always been FAS should take over COEs and expand it instead of the one COEs - NFA - they run.

This would be like the French who centralized their youth programme - with 6 centre and 1 main centre (which train the best of the best).

And the clubs only take over when the players are ready to take the step up.

So FAS can still focus on the best of the best at NFA but with COEs also under their wing.

Yet at the same time, if FAS is going to force clubs to form youth programme, it should only be the U18 COEs.

It has advantages as 1) we bring down the cost without actually having to increase funding. 2) Running just one youth team mean the club will focus all their effort on it instead of the two which mean split resources 3) the clubs will have less problem finding capable coaches as they only need to find one. 

That way it is like the French whose clubs only take over when the players are older and at U18 level, the players should be moved to the clubs.

After all, the French know money is the root of the problem if they asked clubs to develop players on their own and that is why they centralized thus all costs, including the parents and their child who are required to attend an academy, are borne by the federation and the Ligue Nationale de Football.

But FAS is not done yet even then as the reason FFF youth programme is so admired is they were honest with themselves and that is their job is not done until the players reach adulthood as presented by Aime Jacquet, former French national team coach, at the USYSA Workshop, nearly 10 years ago, he summary it well.

The French Football Federation very much operates under the principle that “This work is very important for the game of tomorrow”. The better job they do in the development of quality players at the youth level, the more accomplished professional players will burst onto the scene. The FFF keeps a close eye on the professional clubs because they might not always be concerned with the best interests of the young players. They feel that out of all the elements, the development of the technical ability is the most important. 

So just changing the rules to force clubs to have COEs programme change nothing and let be honest, with Singapore land mass and in term of resources, FAS is the best candidate to take over all of the COEs under this land and run it.

Also, FAS can also easily keep an eye on players even as they progress to the U18 under the clubs COEs proagmme and like the French, they can barred players going to certain COEs progamme if they believed the clubs are not fully developing the players.
So do the right job and centralized youth development and just asked the clubs to keep the U18 COEs.

It will cost a hand and a leg but somehow it is cheaper than some of the projects we see FAS are looking to implement. 

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