LCSFA U15 Elite Team and Staff at Signal Iduna Park, Borussia Dortmund Official Stadium

The Lion City Sailors Football Academy U15 team embarked on their Europe Training Camp 2021, where they started off their trip in Dortmund, Germany. The 42-days training camp consists of the travels between, Germany and the Netherlands where the Elite Academy Under-15 team will be playing a total of 12 matches. Traveling with the boys are 8 staff members which include Technical Director, Luka Lalić, who is also the head coach for LCSFA U15 Elite team. Assisting him are coaches Ashraf Ariffin, Mustafa Al-Saffar, and goalkeeper coach, Shahril Jantan. Along with the team of coaches are Video Analyst, Gaelan Poh, Performance Trainer, Rezal Mashuri, Trip Manager, Jackson Goh, and Sports Multimedia Executive, Nadzirah Eunos.

The Europe Training Camp is an extensive 6-weeks trip where the players will experience international friendly matches against other European academies of their age, to further establish the methodology that LCSFA instills and to gain exposure to the world of football outside of Singapore. 

LCSFA vs Lüner SV

Week 1 – Dortmund, Germany

The team landed at Frankfurt airport at 0630hrs where they continued their journey through a 3 to 4 hours bus ride to Dortmund, Germany. To start off, after checking in, the team traveled to Bochum where they spectated a Bundesliga match between Vfl Bochum and Hoffenheim at Vonovia Ruhrstadion, home of Vfl Bochum. 

LCSFA was welcomed by Borussia Dortmund’s staff with tours around the facilities in the academy and a stadium tour of Signal Iduna Park, Borussia Dortmund’s iconic stadium. 

To prepare the players for the upcoming matches and with the partnership between Lion City Sailors Academy and Borussia Dortmund, the team had access to the BVB football Academy field where training sessions were held. 

During the first week of their arrival in Dortmund, The Sailors were quick to set out for training sessions on the training ground. Regulations and restrictions due to the pandemic had led to a lack of proper 11-a-side training and match exposure before this trip and thus, training sessions in Europe are focused on ensuring that the U15 players are able to gain their confidence back on the pitch, based on training plans arranged by the coaches, and to acclimatize well with the weather conditions here in Europe. 

After a few days of training, the fourth day was an anticipated one as it was the first match of the trip for The Sailors. LCSFA was set to go against Lüner SV. The team did exceptionally well and concluded the match with a win, considering the 2-year hiatus from matches and competitions in Singapore. 

The day after, the team had a Dortmund City Tour where the players and staff also visited the National Museum for German football, one of the most visited museums in the Rhine-Ruhr area which welcomes 200,000 yearly visitors. With 1600 exhibits and 25 film expansions, the team was able to bask in on all the culture and heritage that the museum has to offer. 

After a good 7 days in Dortmund, the team was bound for another long journey on the bus and this time, to the Netherlands.   

LCSFA vs Feyenoord Academy

Week 2 – Rotterdam, Netherlands

LCSFA continued their adventures in Rotterdam, Netherlands – 3 hours bus ride away from Dortmund. The team was welcomed by Marvin and Rody, from Feyenoord, who were there to manage and assist with ensuring that the schedule runs smoothly for the duration of the team's stay in Rotterdam. The program started off with a guided city tour of Downtown Rotterdam where the players had the chance to sponge in the culture and history behind the Netherlands and ended with a team dinner at one of the local restaurants in downtown Rotterdam. 

Official training began the following day where the team trained at Topsportcenturm, in a futsal court, located just beside De Kuip, Feyenoord’s official stadium. 

One of the highlighted activities which the players were involved with was the FIFA tournament that was also held at the stadium. The rules were simple – the game was played with PlayStation 5 and all participants must choose Feyenoord’s first team as fair competition and challenge one another to a match. 

On the ninth day of the trip, LCSFA went on a Guided City Walk in Delft, a city and municipality in the province of South Holland. Delft is a popular tourist destination in the Netherlands, famous for its historical connections with the reigning House of Orange-Nassau and for its blue pottery. Fun and recreational time ended with a warm cup of hot chocolate as the boys got back to focusing on the objective of the trip - training sessions and friendly matches. 

In Rotterdam, training sessions were mainly conducted in Feyenoord Academy and Rotterdam United. As the trip is primarily focused on player progression, experiences gained from different opponents and matches would help in the development of players, individually and as a team. Video analyses of training sessions and matches are held regularly for better understanding of their performance.

After close to 2 weeks of training, LCSFA was ready to face another one of their opponents. FC Utrecht is considered one of the top 5 academies in Netherlands. Putting together the hard work and time dedicated from training sessions, video analysis sessions, and team talks, the boys played with full determination and claimed victory for the match against FC Utrecht. 

Apart from just training sessions at Feyenoord Academy, also known as Varkenoord, the team was given a full stadium tour where the players and staff got the chance to tickle their sights by the amazing stadium of De Kuip. With the chaperon and guide from Feyenoord itself, the players were able to absorb all knowledge behind the history of Feyenoord.

LCSFA vs V.O.C Rotterdam

Week 3 – Final Match in Rotterdam

The following matches in the Netherlands were against FC Dordrecht and Feyenoord Academy where LCSFA was tested and challenged to their limits. Despite the results, the experiences gained through these matches were set for developing them further as football players and to gain better understanding of the game.

On the last few days of The Sailor's adventures in the Netherlands, one of the activities planned for the team was Fun Forest, where they had to put up their bravest front to complete the obstacle courses and high elements located in the middle of the forest. 

Before the last match in Rotterdam, Feyenoord Ceremony for LCS was organized at the hotel of accommodation to commemorate the time whilst in Rotterdam and to bid farewell to the Feyenoord staff that were present during the whole duration of the trip. The players received Feyenoord scarves as a token of appreciation and certificates to seal their 2 weeks experience training at Feyenoord’s academy.

LCSFA’s last opponent during the trip was against V.O.C Rotterdam. As the game was held in the evening, weather conditions were exceptionally cold but the boys managed to pull through and ended the trip with a win against V.O.C Rotterdam’s U14 team.

There were many unanticipated changes in the regulations due to the Covid-19 situation and this affected some of the pre-planned matches that LCSFA was supposedly going against. Despite this, with the help of Feyenoord Academy, the team was still able to secure 4 matches within the time that they stayed in Rotterdam. After 15 days in the Netherlands, LCSFA bid their farewells and were back on the bus to continue their training camp in Germany.

The Sailors are currently settled back in Dortmund, where they will be spending the remaining 3 weeks of their trip at BVB Football Academy for training sessions and going against other teams from Germany, till the end of their Europe Training Camp 2021.