Sport Singapore chief executive Lim Teck Yin is looking to provide “a full range of sport science”, including the use of psychologists, to help prepare the Singapore under-21 football team and avoid another disastrous Southeast Asian (SEA) Games campaign.
Speaking to FourFourTwo from the sidelines of a football festival organised by ActiveSG Football Academy, Lim revealed they will be working hand in hand with the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) to build a team physically and mentally ready to succeed at the next edition – which will be played in Kuala Lumpur in August 2017.
Most importantly, we’ve got to let the players understand ‘this is the commitment required of you, this is how we’re going to get behind you, now you step up on your part too’
“Not everything that needed to come together came together (in the 2015 SEA Games), so we have to draw lessons from that and move forward,” said the 53-year-old. “In all cases, you want to create an ideal training environment for your players.
“Therefore it’s important for the coaches and administrators to visualise what an ideal training environment is and recognise what it takes to build a village around the athletes.
“When we talk about the village, we’re talking about the full range of sports science that will be available to the team and the coaches will need to understand how to use them.
“Just as in 2015, we’d like to sit down with the FAS to understand how they believe the campaign plan for 2017 should be plotted out. Obviously they are already on the journey with the Garena Young Lions and the under-21 team, so the wheels are in motion.
“But we’ve still got a year to go and fine-tune those plans based on what they’ve been learning up to this point. Most importantly, we’ve got to let the players understand ‘this is the commitment required of you, this is how we’re going to get behind you, now you step up on your part too’.“
Stopping short of mentioning a medal target, Lim wants the Young Lions to put up respectable performances in the 2017 Games and the public to get behind the team.
“There’s technical and physical elements in football. For the technical elements, the players got to drill, drill and drill continuously,” said the former army general. “For the elements of physical fitness, that’s something regardless of technical competency, so the players can set higher benchmarks for themselves.
“And then there’s the art of being part of a team and that can really shine through. What I really hope to see at the next SEA Games is a team that wins the respect of the fans and also fans that get behind the team.
We still have to constantly improve the way we run training. That in itself is a science and an art. We have to get better with it
“I know it’ll never be smooth in terms of the fans and it will take some time. But if the fans get behind the team, the amount of self-belief from within the team itself is going to grow and that’s important.
“That’s what inspires hard training every single day.”
Lim has also been heartened to see a detailed youth development curriculum unveiled by FAS technical director Michel Sablon in late May – something he felt was lacking in Singapore football.
The blueprint is broken down into 11 components that include an overall philosophy, coaching education, a revamp of school and Centre of Excellence competitions, as well an enhanced sports science department.
“There was always some kind of system, but probably not as explicit as it has been made today,” he pointed out. “I think that’s important. Until you make your system explicit, it’s hard to build an alignment between all the different players and the ecosystem. At least now we can get those conversations going.
“We had several meetings with Sablon; we affirmed the need for us (Sport Singapore) to work together and to follow the curriculum. I think beyond following it, we want to work very closely with FAS to be able to develop a habit and competency around running good practices and good training.
“We still have to constantly improve the way we run training. That in itself is a science and an art.
“We have to get better with it and we want to work with FAS on that.”
Main photo: Weixiang Lim/FourFourTwo