The PUMA Youth Champions League (YCL), which commenced in September 2022, features Singapore’s top teams across six age-group categories from Under-10 to Under-16. Other than LCSFA, each age-group grouping sees five other clubs going against each other. PUMA YCL involves the nation's top clubs and academies, such as JSSL FC, Euro Soccer Academy (ESA), and Island City FC.

YCL will see two seasons that will be administered, from September to November 2022 and February to May 2023. At the end of each season, one team will be crowned champion from each age-group category.

Every week, YCL features one match from the week. The league started exhilarating, especially for the Sailors Under-12 team, as their game against ESA was the “Feature Match” for Matchday 1. The team was up to a great start as they conquered and clinched 3 points in their first fixture.

Being part of a competitive football environment is not something of unfamiliar ground for the Sailors Under-12. In June 2022, the team took part in their first International Youth Friendly Football Tournament in Chuncheon, South Korea, facing opponents from Son Football Academy, Colombia, and Vietnam. In July, the team departed for Sweden shortly afterward to compete against international teams in the Gothia Cup 2022.

“The past international match experiences were proven useful. When we are down by a goal or two in a game, the players manage to return to the knowledge earned from similar situations faced in the previous games and use that to bounce back.”

Head Coach of Under-12 and Head of Foundation, Achapz, also explains how it is not about getting an idealistic scoreline. Instead, use the knowledge gained weekly from the week's topic in training sessions.

“The focus has always been the same - To execute and follow through with what we practice during training sessions and do it no matter the result or circumstance. The games we play are a tool we use to gauge what the players learn over the week.”

The Under-12 team has played five matches in total and is standing firm at the top of the table on even grounds with clubs like Sporting CP SG and Turf City FC. Coach Achapz, is confident that the team will push through with unwavering determination throughout the remaining league matches.

PUMA YCL aims to elevate youth football standards in Singapore. It creates the perfect opportunity for the Elite Foundation Programme (EFP) teams of LCSFA to obtain match and competitive time on the pitch. The Under-10 and Under-11 teams rally through 7-a-side matches in the league every week.

The Sailors Under-10 started their journey in the league strong by overcoming their first match of the season against Turf City FC. Despite being tested on their second match against Brazilian Lions, the Under-10 did not yield, and by Matchday 3, they were neck to neck with Island City FC in second place in the group standings. Currently, the Sailors Under-10 is placed fourth in the group standings and is set to face Sporting CP SG for the upcoming match in a week's time.

The Under-10 team consists of players born between 2012 to 2013. Head Coach Masrezwan Masturi, better known as Coach Mas, constantly encourages critical thinking amongst the players during training sessions and match days.

“Consistency has been the biggest challenge for the team so far. Individual or team mistakes are bound to happen, especially when playing against older age groups in the league."

Coach Mas has sight on the rectifications of the team as opposed to results, recognizing player performance and progression as the primary focus.

“A perfect example of our breakthrough in development was the corrections made after going against the Brazilian Lions. Our players made individual mistakes that led to poor execution in that game. Eventually, it was highlighted and worked on, and they have proven themselves through the subsequent matches by not repeating the same blunders.”

Coach Mas assures a more confident and assured level of play for the subsequent games, acknowledging the age gap between the players of his team and those in the league.

“Our younger players (born 2013) are adapting well to the structure and can level with the older players (born 2012) in the team. Even though it might be hard for the players now, it is distinguishable that our players are of a higher level than the players of the same age group. Through the first round of matches, it is possible to exploit this experience and turn it into points during the second leg.”

The Sailors Under-10 will continue to play true to the club’s principles and methodology, which is indisputable through their fiery style of play.

The league sees not only the EFP age-group fixtures but also LCSFA’s Elite Development Programme (EDP) players' direct encounters with other academies. The academies that have and will play against LCSFA’s EDP teams include Singapore Sports School, Singapore FC, and ANZA Socceroos.

Despite a few postponed matches due to unpredictable weather, The Sailors Under-16 bagged three points for their past three games. They went against JSSL FC and Singapore FC on Matchdays 4 and 5. The team also claimed victory in their recent game that happened the past weekend against Turf City FC. With one game on hand, the Sailors Under-16 are single-minded in pursuing top placing in the group standings under Head Coach Daan van Oudheusden.

The Sailors Under-14, on the other hand, make no exceptions to charge toward their goal in this season’s YCL. Currently placed at the top of the table, they have proven that passion breeds success through the displays on the pitches throughout each game. Under the command of Head Coach Achapz, the Sailors Under-15 are ready to pitch in more triumphs in their future fixtures.

The Sailors Under-13, in particular, have braved the high-level competition from their adversaries. Not giving in to the challenges, the Sailors Under-13 is still steadfast and persists in reaching their purpose in the league - to expand their development in the beautiful game in high and compelling spirits.

Head Coach of Sailors Under-13, Mustafa Al-Saffar, talks about how the team has progressed tremendously, not only in player confidence on the pitch but also in the team’s composition. Before the mid-season break, his team went against GFA Japan. The team concluded Matchday 5 on a high as they triumphed and claimed victory.

“So far, It's been a great experience for every player. To have weekly competitive games against good opposition is what it's all about, and they haven't had that for a long time now. So the YCL allows us to train hard throughout the week and enjoy playing against different opposition with different styles on Sunday nights.”

“Playing with a team who are a year younger (sometimes almost two years) can be difficult for our players - physically and mentally. They must find ways to defend against faster players and devise solutions to get behind their back line to score the goals.”

“It will always be on performance and getting the best out of every player. We had two tough games with many learning moments, so I'm looking forward to seeing us play those teams again and hopefully see more mature performances.”

The Sailors Under-13 is currently fourth on the table in group standings and is putting in the groundwork for their upcoming matches.