In this article we delve into the minds of our local coaches Jaslee and Ashraf Ariffin (Achapz), who have made Lion City Sailors Football Academy their grindstone since it first started. Coach Jaslee is the head coach of the Singapore Football League (SFL) Team and 2009 Elite Team, while Coach Achapz is the head coach for the 2011 Elite Team.

In this year alone, Lion City Sailors Football Academy has been making strides in our vision to become a hub of elite youth football development. One huge step is the planning and construction of a new state-of-the-art training facility, projected to be completed in 2022. Within the academy, the coaches have been working closely with one another to solidify their philosophy and methodology.

Progression since the past year

Both coaches agree that there has been progression in terms of academy structure and professionalism thus far. Coach Achapz mentioned that the arrival of Technical Director Luka Lalić has brought more structure and ambition in driving the academy towards achieving their overall goal. Coach Jaslee added:

“With Luka coming in as Technical Director and sharing with us his philosophy and methodology, it has given the coaches and I a bigger picture of what the world of football is like in other top-level professional academies outside of Singapore.”

The coaches expressed their gratitude for our General Manager, Tan Li Yu, who has played a major role in facilitating day-to-day operations and striving towards efficiency, pivoting LCSFA to become a hub of elite youth football development for Singapore.

A Mesh of Local and International

Before the pandemic, LCSFA had initially set up programmes which would allow our players to gain exposure at international academies. Coach Jaslee mentioned that if not for the pandemic, this opportunity had been something that he was very much looking forward to. Nonetheless, as an academy we have to make the best out of our circumstances, and do what we can given the current constraints. The coaches recognise that football training as we know it – weekly competitive matches, team training in large groups, etc. – may have come to a halt, but time does not stop. Our youth players are at a critical growth stage in their football development, and it is up to the coaches to devise creative ways to get the best out of them in training.

“To achieve something different, we have to do things differently. We are responsible for creating a competitive yet supportive environment for the players. We are in the best position in Singapore to create a different generation of youths in football.”

The integration of foreign coaches in the academy has benefited both local and international coaches, allowing knowledge transfer and consolidation. International best practices at top-level academies are shared by the foreign coaches, and localised for our Singaporean youth. Coach Achapz notes that all LCSFA coaches bring to the table different areas of expertise and are able to share their knowledge in an open environment, eventually helping everyone improve. Coach Jaslee has also summated his experience working with the international coaches as valuable, having spent a few months observing and exchanging tips with Coach Rodrigo and Coach Djole.

The Next Step Towards Progress

The coaches are thrilled for the upcoming highly anticipated facility at Mattar Road, which will be equipped with best in class facilities including five pitches, a gym, and amenities for sports science and video analysis. With the new infrastructure, Coach Achapz believes that it will create a better professional training environment for both coaches and players, a worthy platform to mould modern footballers.

In addition, Coach Jaslee hopes to send a few of his players for overseas attachments in the near future, to gain valuable experience and competitive international exposure.

LCSFA and Borussia Dortmund have recently signed a partnership focusing on youth development and knowledge sharing. The academy intends to broaden our international relations with more Western European clubs and academies. With that, our coaches expressed their hopes of international coaching attachment stints as well, providing them the opportunity to broaden their coaching experience and bring back valuable knowledge to boost national football standards.

Hope #ForTheFuture

Coach Jaslee and Achapz are both determined to contribute to the academy as much as they can, for the development of their players. Together with rest of the coaching team, they will continue to impart knowledge to the next generation of talented and dedicated footballers, facilitating the launch of their footballing careers in Singapore and beyond. They have nothing but optimism for a promising future in football for our players, as they both agree that Singapore finally has a real opportunity to make a difference, with the right resources, people and pathway.