A 'football hub' in kallang

The Straits Times by WANG MENG MENG

As the most popular sport in the country tries to get back on its feet, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) received a massive boost when national sports agency Sport Singapore (SportSG) revealed plans to build a dedicated training centre to house the Lions and the country's age-group teams.

On the sidelines of an event to announce details of this year's Festival of Football, SportSG chief executive Lim Teck Yin told The Straits Times yesterday that in the next two weeks, a tender will be called to build a training centre at the Kallang Field that had long been coveted by the FAS.

The project, given the working title of "Kallang Football Hub", is slated for completion in the third quarter of next year. In 2010, the FAS, under a previous leadership team, first announced the inception of a National Training Centre but the plan did not materialise.

Lim said: "We are redeveloping the Kallang Field for the FAS' high-performance teams and the ActiveSG academy. It (the project) is fundamentally a training centre with limited stands for spectators."

The Kallang Football Hub will feature one full-sized natural turf field, two full-sized artificial surfaces, one half-sized artificial pitch, four sheltered futsal courts, a 400m running track, changing rooms, spectator stands and offices.

Further details will be revealed after the tender process is complete.

Apart from the Lions and Singapore's age-group teams, the other user of the facility is the ActiveSG Football Academy, which provides affordable coaching to children and youths aged three to 17.

The facility can also be used as a training and warm-up location for visiting teams as well as a host venue for youth tournaments.

The Festival of Football, to be held at the Sports Hub's OCBC Square from June 14 to July 30, is a multi-agency effort between SportSG, FAS, Singapore Sports Hub, Singapore Tourism Board, National Youth Council and the International Champions Cup (ICC) to capitalise on this month's World Cup and July's ICC.

Players from Singapore Premier League (SPL) clubs Home United and the Young Lions will also make appearances during the event to mingle with fans.

Lim said: "The messaging (behind the Festival) is to come together - fans, weekend warriors, football companies, event owners... everything to do with the national football scene."

In February, Sports Hub chief executive officer Oon Jin Teik signed a memorandum of understanding with the FAS to make the Sports Hub the home of the Lions. Selected SPL games will also be played at the National Stadium.

Oon reaffirmed his support of the FAS yesterday, saying: "Singapore football needs a boost, we need to help them return to the glory days of Fandi and gang.

"This is not for show, this is a national agenda and it's important to push the national sport to align with where Singapore wants it to go."

FAS' acting general secretary Yazeen Buhari said: "We believe we can deliver, elevate the sport and show that the Lions rightfully belong at the National Stadium.

"The collaborative effort has been very impactful and it plays a big part in the football eco-system here. We could see there is renewed faith in Singapore football and we welcome this news (of the Kallang Football Hub).

"It is aligned with what we want to achieve with the national teams."