Isa named head coach as ActiveSG Football Academy partners Geylang International

In a first-ever partnership with a S.League club, the ActiveSG Football Academy will be joining hands with Geylang International to expand their programme, led by club captain Isa Halim, to Bedok Stadium.

The announcement was made at a football festival organised by the ActiveSG Football Academy on Sunday morning where more than 300 youngsters from the academy’s five venues came together to participate in a friendly tournament at the Marina Bay Floating Platform.

Coaching is something which I want to do when I retire, so I have to thank my coaches and chairman for this.

- Isa Halim

The program held at Bedok Stadium will be the first under the ActiveSG Football Academy program that is jointly run by a S.League club.

As part of the agreement, Geylang’s Young Eagles Soccer (YES) academy will be merged under ActiveSG when the program officially starts in mid-September.

Eagles skipper Isa will be the head coach at this newest venue – joining a list of illustrious names like Richard Bok, Robin Chitrakar, Hyrizan Jufri, Hairil Amin and Steven Tan, who are the respective coaches at the other five venues Serangoon Stadium, Queenstown Stadium, Jurong East Stadium, Woodlands Stadium and Kallang Cricket Field.

The 30-year-old, who had earned 53 international caps with the Singapore national team, is delighted to be handed the opportunity to realise his coaching aspirations.

“At Geylang International, the club look after the players and this is a platform for life after football,” Isa told reporters. “Coaching is something which I want to do when I retire in the future, so I have to thank my coaches and chairman for this.

“I always like to upgrade myself; you never know where it’s going to take you, but definitely one day I will like to coach an S.League team. For now, it’s still way too early to think about it; I’m only turning 30.

“I hope to help the kids not just technically, but also in terms of mentality and how to prepare yourself to be up there. It’s a long road to be a footballer, so hopefully that’s where I can share my experience and knowledge.”

This is a club with a lot of history in youth development. You can see players like Baihakki (Khaizan) and Hassan (Sunny) coming from the Geylang youth team.

- Aleksandar Duric

ActiveSG Football Academy principal Aleksandar Duric is pleased with this historic partnership with his former employers and getting Isa onboard.

“I’m happy that Geylang is going to be part of our big family,” said the Singapore football legend, who celebrated his 46th birthday just two days ago. “I was part of Geylang before and won the (S.League) championship with them in 2001.

“This is a club with a lot of history in youth development. You can see players like Baihakki (Khaizan), Hassan (Sunny) and a lot others coming from the Geylang youth team.

“I’m happy that Isa is here; not just him, but a lot of my ex-colleagues coming to join me in giving back to the community. These are player who have been there done that, so there’s no better way than to have these guys to inspire the kids.”

Making a guest appearance to conduct a jersey exchange with Geylang chairman Ben Teng to commemorate the new partnership, Sport Singapore chief executive Lim Teck Yin was keen to share his happiness at seeing the growth of the ActiveSG Football Academy, since it began in June.

“The whole idea of this is to be able to grow the football ecosystem in Singapore; bringing together different strengths of people who have the same vision as us in growing our children and to live a sporting lifestyle,” said the 53-year-old.

“We were really heartened from the first to the second season, the return rate was at a high 90 per cent. That shows the parents really believe in the quality of the programme, where there is an emphasis on values we want to see on the field.

“The FAS (Football Association of Singapore) technical director Michel Sablon has developed a strong curriculum for developing football at this level. What we will like to see is a common set of approaches in how we play and nurture champions’ mindsets.

“It’s not just S.League clubs; we will also like to join hands with other academies if there’s the opportunity.”

Photos: KK Chin