Categories
Football Sports

Fandi Ahmad Appointed Head of Elite Youth

Fandi Ahmad will be the FAS’ new Head of Elite Youth, the organisation announced in a media statement last Saturday (23 Nov).

The announcement quashes rumours that Fandi was considering offers from overseas clubs.

Currently the head coach of the Singapore Premier League’s Young Lions team and the national Under-22 team competing in the SEA Games, Fandi’s contract was due to expire on 31st December of this year.

While the FAS did not state the length of the extension, The Straits Times reported that it will be for two years.

In the statement, FAS said Fandi will work closely with technical director Joseph Palatsides to enhance the pathways and structure for the development of youth players for the national teams.

This includes player scouting and tracking, mentorship programmes as well as specialised training sessions for players in the various national teams. 

In addition, Fandi will also be part of national team coach Tatsuma Yoshida’s backroom staff, in order to create greater synergy between the elite youth developmental pipeline and the National Team.

Nazri Nasir, the current national assistant team coach, will take over the reins of the Young Lions in the 2020 Singapore Premier League season, as well as the Under-22 National Team.

Commenting on his new role, Fandi said he was confident in the development of young elite players in Singapore and was looking forward to working with Joseph and the national youth coaches to develop the next generation of players.

“I have seen potential in many youth players over the years but not many had the opportunity to be groomed for the future. We need to establish a strong foundation for our youth development system so that we can identify and nurture the talent of tomorrow,” Fandi added.

Welcoming the appointment, FAS General Secretary Yazeen Buhari said in the statement, “Fandi has accumulated a wealth of coaching experience in the last 20 years and we see the value he brings to the area of elite youth development. 

“His work rate and professionalism are exceptional and he has embraced the FAS’ desire to further develop our youth footballers. He has developed a good working relationship with National Team Coach Tatsuma and we see this partnership further growing for the benefit of Singapore Football.”

This article first appeared on The Straits Times.

Categories
Football Local Sports

Laos Earns Point in Goalless Draw Against Singapore in SEA Games 2019 Men’s Football Opening Game

In what was a physically challenging game for Laos, they stood their ground against a Singapore side whose captain Irfan Fandi stood almost two heads taller than Laotian skipper Souk Aphone Vongchiengkham.

Singapore head coach Fandi Ahmad fielded a strong side for the game, naming Singapore Premier League player of the year Faris Ramli and Norwegian side Raufoss striker Ikhsan Fandi in the lineup.

And Irfan Fandi, with 23 senior international caps to his name, commanded the backline with another towering centre-back, Lionel Tan. 

Singapore had set themselves lofty ambitions going into the game, aiming to make it to the knockout stages from their “Group of Death’. On the other hand, Laos would be more than content with getting more than three points at this group stage — their tally at the 2017 Games. 

But based on the game, it was clear that Laos could aim higher than that, resolutely defending against Singapore’s offensive waves. 

And while the result did not go Fandi’s way, it was a welcome reunion with Laos head coach and ex-teammate V. Sundramoorthy.

Laos face Vietnam next, who served Brunei a 6-0 thrashing in their opening game. For Singapore, they face an in-form Indonesian side who defeated defending champions Thailand 2-0.

 

This article first appeared on Fox Sports Asia.

Categories
Asia Netball Sports

Two in Two for Singapore Netball at SEA Games

The Singapore netball team won their second consecutive game on Wednesday (Nov 27) with a convincing 62-38 win over Brunei, the 2017 Games bronze medallists.

The Bruneians, though, made Singapore work for the win. They took a 4-1 lead early in the first quarter of the match, and precise shooting and resolute defending helped them finish the first quarter with a 9-8 lead over Singapore.

But Singapore, silver medallists in 2017, picked up the pace after the break and went up 25-20 after the second quarter. 

And in the third quarter, Singapore went up another gear and extended their lead over Brunei, ending the period with a comfortable 43-28 lead. 

Natalie Milicich’s side continued their offensive and outplayed their counterparts in the final quarter to see themselves to another win – the first was a 80-28 thumping of hosts Philippines on Monday.

Singapore will face Thailand next on Thursday, and causeway rivals Malaysia after that. In the 2017 Games, Singapore lost the gold to Malaysia 65-41 in the finals. 

 

This article first appeared on Channel NewsAsia.

Categories
Local Sailing Sports

Return to Glory: Sailor Victoria Chan Aims for Olympics

Chan has her eyes set on qualifying for the Olympics for the first time, despite last competing four years ago. 

The 2011 SEA Games sailing gold medallist made no promises about getting gold at this edition in the Philippines, but instead will use it as a testing bed for her Olympic dreams. 

The Asian leg of the Olympic qualifiers are in March.

“Definitely, in any competition that you represent Singapore, you want to do your best and bring glory for the nation,” she told The New Paper.

“But, for me, the Games are more like a stepping stone to the Olympics.

“I want to qualify for the Olympics, that’s the goal for me. So, this is a great event for me to see where I’m at in that regard.”

Her previous competition was the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore, where she clinched a silver in the individual Laser Radial event, the same category she will be competing in during this year’s SEA Games running from 30 November to 11 December. 

Then a chronic ligament injury in her left wrist swayed her to take a break from sailing and undergo surgery.

Post-surgery, she joined the People’s Association and is now a manager at the PAssion WaVe @ Marina Bay Lifeskills & Lifestyle Division.

Chan mentioned that the flexibility of her work schedule and missing the spirit of competition was what urged her to return to competitive sailing last June. 

The 29-year-old said, “My company has been supportive of my interest and this gave me more motivation to try out for the Games.

“I am able to put in at least 16 hours of training (a week) whilst still working. With their backing, I felt really supported in my pursuit to make a comeback.”

She also said she loved making her own decisions out at sea, where you are all alone and you have to persevere.

“You don’t hear your coaches out in the sea…even just coming back is satisfying and I want to focus on the process of improving.”

While Chan was out on her hiatus, her competitors were improving in leaps and bounds – something Chan is more than aware of. 

“I know I have to train hard because, while I was out of the sport, the others have been training and improving.

“Malaysia and Thailand have Olympians taking part, so it’s not going to be easy.

“But I want to see where I stand against the pack.”

 

This article first appeared on The New Paper.

Categories
Local Netball Sports

‘Friendly’ Match Sees Singapore Brush Off Host Philippines in SEA Games Netball Opener

Singapore beat host Philippines 80-28 in their opening game at the 30th SEA Games on Monday (25 Nov), in what was labelled as a match between close friends by Singapore captain Charmaine Soh.

“The Philippines team and us have a very close friendship, so playing them on court felt like a game between close friends,” Singapore captain Charmaine Soh told CNA after the game at the Laguna sports complex in Santa Rosa.

“Even in the hotel, we say hi and hug each other like long-time friends.”

Players from both sides could be seen speaking with one another during the game, with Soh occasionally applauding the efforts of the Filipinos as well.

“The players were saying that they improved quite a bit,” she added. 

“We played well, we had quite a jittery start but we managed to carry out the game plan after. I felt that the whole team got on court – the young ones, the old ones, we try to work out combis (combinations) and setups so the team did pretty well.”

The Singaporeans, who last won gold in 2015, raced to a 21-6 lead in the opening quarter. 

An enthusiastic, pom-pom-wielding crowd, rallied on the Philippines side, but the Singapore players kept the cheers to a minimum as they stretched their lead to 43-15 in the second quarter.

Exceptional defence from Natalie Milicich’s charges meant they kept the home team to just five points in the third, before closing out the game.

Speaking on reports that insufficient food had been an issue for the team at their hotel, Soh said that it was settled “almost immediately”.

She said: “The hotel and accommodation are good, everything is fine. 

“Normally we eat a bit more, just that the portion wasn’t a lot. So we coped with the issue by ordering (food) in so that wasn’t an issue at all. We manage to settle the issue almost immediately.”

The team has taken it in their stride, added Soh.

“We should expect the unexpected. This is just one of those unexpected events we have to cope with and this is really a small issue for us,” she said. 

At the last edition of the Games, Singapore beat Philippines 91-22 in the semi finals, but missed out on gold after losing to host and Causeway rivals Malaysia 65-41 in the finals. 

Singapore will face Brunei next on Wednesday.

 

This article first appeared on Channel News Asia.

Categories
Football Local Sports

U-15 International Challenge Cup Set to Test Local Youth

Talented youth from Japan, Australia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore will battle it out in the fourth edition of the Under-15 International Challenge Cup, organised by the Football Association of Singapore.

The teams will compete in two groups of four from 23 to 29 Nov, with all matches played at Singapore Sports School, except for the semi-finals and finals which will be played at Jalan Besar Stadium.

As reported by The New Paper, there will be two locals sides playing – the Singapore Under-15 team and Singapore Sports School (SSP). The foreign teams taking part are three-time champions Promotion Fund for Vietnamese Football Talents (PVF), Malaysia’s Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT), Japan’s Matsumoto Yamaga, Indonesia’s Garuda Unity and Australia’s Melbourne City College and Perth United.

SSP coach and former Singapore international Isa Halim said, “This competition will expose the players to different teams and their varying styles of play.

“Also, it will give my team the chance to compete and understand the demands of international football.

“I want my players to adapt to these demands and give a good account of themselves by applying what they have learnt.”

Under-15 International Challenge Cup

Nov 23 (Sat)

8.30am: S’pore Sports Sch v Perth United

4pm: Melbourne City College v Garuda

7pm: Singapore U-15 v JDT

 

Nov 24 (Sun)

8.30am: PVF v Yamaga

4pm: Melbourne City College v JDT

7pm: Singapore U-15 v Garuda

 

Nov 25 (Mon)

8.30am: JDT v Garuda

4pm: S’pore Sports Sch v Yamaga

7pm: PVF v Perth United

 

Nov 26 (Tues)

8.30am: S’pore U-15 v Melbourne City College

4pm: PVF v S’pore Sports Sch

7pm: Yamaga v Perth United

 

Nov 28 (Thurs)

8.30am: 7th place play-off

3pm: 5th place play-off

3pm & 5pm: Semi-finals at Jalan Besar Stadium

 

Nov 29 (Fri)

8.30am: 3rd place play-off

5pm: Final at Jalan Besar Stadium

* All matches at Singapore Sports School unless stated. Admission is free.

 

This article first appeared on The New Paper.

Categories
Local Netball Sports

Netball World Cup: Tough Lessons Learned for Singapore

A single point made the difference between gold and silver at the quadrennial Netball World Cup held in Liverpool in July. In a nail-biting final that kept spectators on the edge of their seats, New Zealand upset holders and 11-time winners Australia 52-51.

At the post-match conference, New Zealand coach Noeline Taurua said, “It has taken us a long time to be able to get to this stage. Sometimes good things take time.

“I’m very aware of my role, and I’m only one piece in the mix of everything,” she continued, singing praises of New Zealand netball programme.

On the other side of the court, the Australian players were coming to terms with their defeat. Emotions were running high and tears were shed – they had won the last three World Cups and players were not used to losing.

Australia coach Lisa Alexander said her players were “shattered”. 

In the changing rooms, Alexander ensured the players remembered that feeling of hurt, “because that’s what helps drive athletes to higher levels of performance in training”.

In the 3rd-placing match, pre-tournament favourites England beat South Africa to win the bronze. The hosts were gunning for gold on home soil, but fell short by two goals against New Zealand in the semi-finals.

Also making their presence felt were the passionate Zimbabwe fans who lit up the arena with their songs, drums and slick dance moves as they cheered on their team with every goal scored, as if they had just won the Cup.

For Singapore, they will do well to make the most of the experience and bounce back from it. After all, they finished last out of 16 competing teams, losing all seven matches. 

But Taurua commended Singapore’s style of play after New Zealand defeated the Republic 89-21 in a group game.

She said, “Singapore is ranked among the lowest in the competition, but I love their style of play. I thought there were moments when they had us on the back foot, and they put some beautiful shots in.”

Singapore’s defence was resolute at times and skipper Charmaine Soh led the charge, but the players lost out to their opponents’ physicality and size.

Better youth development

Despite the losses, Team Singapore coach Natalie Milicich stressed that she was far from disappointed in her players.

“It was about hanging in there and we had to look at what was achievable with a very young team. Ultimately we are realistic about the fact that we are not professional. We are unfortunate that we don’t have the funding to have full-time paid athletes. If we did, I think eventually those gaps will narrow.”

One way to improve the level of netball in Singapore is by training athletes as early as possible, said Soh, who added that children as young as three or four already start training in Australia and New Zealand. 

In Singapore, children start at age nine and 10. 

Soh also said that having youth programmes could also mean that Singapore would have a larger talent pool to pick from.

Echoing Soh’s sentiments of grooming youth netballers was World Cup ambassador and Uganda captain Peace Proscovia.

The 29-year-old was substituted by her teammate seven years younger in one of the games, and had no complaints about it.

She said, “Coming off and letting someone like Mary go in is my pride. One of my key objectives is to promote the young ones, because the future does not belong to us (who) are edging out. Mary is much younger than me, and she needs that time to gain confidence.”

For Proscovia, netball paved a way out of her poverty-stricken village, and onto the world stage. She is also a PhD student in Australia. 

Sport is more than just playing the game. It builds character, teaches perseverance and honest values. It galvanises people and has the ability to empower women, and inspire a whole new generation of athletes.

Nelson Mandela once said, “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire, it has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope, where once there was only despair.”

Culture is key 

Off the court, Singapore could learn from other countries that performed better at the World Cup. Champions New Zealand has a population of 4.7 million, just about a million less than Singapore. And debutants Zimbabwe finished eighth, a laudable position considering the team had fewer resources and even needed to crowdfund to afford attending the World Cup.

While just qualifying for the World Cup was commendable, Singapore’s performance still left much to be desired if they want to better themselves at the international level. 

The first steps: investing in young athletes, hiring top coaches, and developing a structured netball programme.

 

This article first appeared on The Business Times.

Categories
Athletics International Sports

New Transgender Rules Draw Ire from Olympic Champion Semaya

Female transgender athletes must now lower their testosterone levels by half, further restricting the rules for hyperandrogenous competitors such as South Africa’s double Olympic 800 meters champion Caster Semenya.

Under new regulations introduced by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Council, transgender athletes are no longer required to be recognised by law in their new gender but only need to provide a “signed declaration” that they identify as female.

The IAAF approved rules that require the concentration of testosterone in a female transgender athlete to be less than five nanomoles per liter continuously for a period of at least 12 months prior to being declared eligible – the previous limit was 10 nanomoles.

To keep their eligibility to compete in the female category, athletes must maintain their testosterone levels below the five-nanomole limit.

An IAAF statement said: “She must demonstrate to the satisfaction of the expert panel that the concentration of testosterone in her serum has been less than 5nmol/L continuously for a period of at least 12 months prior to being declared eligible, and must keep her serum testosterone concentration below that level to maintain her eligibility to compete in the female category.”

For athletes with differences of sexual development (DSD), or hyperandrogenism, such as Semenya, similar rules apply. 

She is currently ineligible to compete and was ruled out of this year’s world championships.

Semenya is taking legal action to try to reverse the current IAAF ruling.

This article first appeared on Asia One.