Singapore kids to benefit from Ronaldinho's Football Academy

Tampines Rovers’ new chairman Krishna Ramachandra was keen to stress that local kids will benefit from the Ronaldinho Football Academy, which was officially launched by the Brazilian superstar in Singapore on Thursday. 

S.League giants Tampines, in association with the International Football Group (IFG), have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Brazilian great to jointly set up his football academy in the Lion City.

The MOU is the first step of an exchange programme that will result in coaches, players and officials from both Brazil and Tampines coming together in a youth development journey, guided by the two-time FIFA World Player of the Year.

This tie-up will definitely be a big boost to the image of Singapore football

In essence, the Ronaldinho Football Academy will come under the auspices of Tampines, adopting the club’s football academy which has been running for the North East Community Development Council (CDC) at Greenview Secondary School.

Speaking at a packed media conference at the ION Orchard Mall, Ronaldinho said the overwhelming support since his arrival in Singapore had reinforced his faith that he had chosen the right place to launch his academy.

The former Barcelona and AC Milan standout was mobbed at Changi Airport upon his arrival earlier on Thursday.

“I’m very happy to be here and see the support from the fans,” said the 2002 World Cup winner. “Everything that I’ve received here proved that this is the right place to start my academy.

“I hope to help these young kids to achieve a higher level and one day be a professional. I’m looking forward for this cooperation to be a successful one.”

It was during his time with Barcelona that Ronaldinho became a global icon

IFG, the team behind the collaboration, is a fully-owned subsidiary of Eagle Venture Group Pte Ltd, an integrated football solutions company that is aiming to be the next leader in sports marketing and elite coaching in Asia.

Speaking at the MOU signing ceremony, Ramachandra was understandably pleased to be joining forces with the Brazilian maestro.

“It’s a huge honour for Tampines to be associated with a world-class name like Ronaldinho,” he told assembled media. “He represents world-class attitude, not just on the pitch but in everything he does.

“We can look at the way he is setting up an academy to impact a lot of youths. At Tampines, we have a similar philosophy to develop young football players.

“That’s why we look outwards to have a platform for these guys to come through and also for future national team players to be developed. We’re looking to provide the facilities and connectivity for this cause.

“Most importantly, we want to give something extra to these players, especially in terms of inducing creativity which is something lacking in Singapore football.”

The Ronaldinho Football Academy will be the first academy in Singapore to be associated with a globally-acclaimed football legend, with Ramachandra keen to emphasise it will be different from the numerous football schools out there in the market.

“There is talk about so many academies sprucing up and affecting the whole football curriculum in Singapore,” said the 44-year-old lawyer.

“We’ll be paying very careful attention to how the FAS (Football Association of Singapore) technical director Michel Sablon rolls out his curriculum.

“We cannot be doing something totally different from what the country is doing. Tampines have a good, long-standing relationship with the FAS and I have confidence that what we’re doing will be a great attraction. This tie-up will definitely be a big boost to the image of Singapore football.”

Nilton Maio Leo, who will fill the role of technical director at the Ronaldinho Football Academy, explained that the philosophy of the academy will be based on Ronaldinho’s three key values.

“Firstly he’s a winner in life and family where he put himself forward in whatever environment,” he said.

“Secondly he enjoys life and playing football; he does everything with passion. Thirdly, he has the mental and technical skills to be a champions. That’ll be the foundation of his academy.” 

Main photo: Weixiang Lim/FourFourTwo