It has been a strange couple of months for our Lion City Sailors custodian Hassan Sunny.
After all, since starting his professional career at Geylang United (now called Geylang International) in 2003, the 36-year-old has hardly ever been away from a football pitch for such a long period of time, injuries notwithstanding.
But, with the Covid-19 pandemic putting a temporary halt to all sporting activities in Singapore in March, Hassan has had no choice but to stay at home – away from the familiar surroundings of the Bishan Stadium – and wait for the virus to blow over, so that things can return to normal.
And, while Hassan fully understands the need to be cautious when it comes to the virus, he admits that it has not been easy for him to live without football these past two months.
“I don’t see anyone, or any athletes, having a good time at the moment,” said Hassan. “I watch the news closely every day, hoping for when it’s finally announced that we’re allowed to train again. Even if it’s in small groups of three or four, all of us just can’t wait to be back out on the pitch.
“Because football is in our blood, and we have been playing football since we were young, and this virus is like a huge block to stop us from doing what we love. In fact, it’s not just us professional athletes. I’m sure most people out there have ‘itchy legs’, and can’t wait to exercise or play sports as well.”
Nonetheless, Hassan acknowledges it is imperative that the SPL resumes only when it is safe to do so. And he expressed his confidence that the authorities in Singapore would make the right call at the right time.
“We as Singaporeans have to be thankful and we have to appreciate the things going on in Singapore,” Hassan mused. “Everything is about health. I’m sure when football resumes, all the necessary measures and checks will come first before football.
“I think it’s safe to say that us players don’t need to worry that much, because if any of us don’t pass the checks, we won’t be allowed to train or play with the team. So, if you talk about fears in terms of health, I’m sure everything will be detected early, and I think there’ll be no worries on that end.”
In the meantime, to keep himself focused on football, Hassan reveals that he has taken to watching his past matches, while also ensuring that he remains in tip-top shape physically.
The Sailors ‘Superman’ explained: “I’m sure all of us athletes and football players have been doing a lot of individual work at home or at our neighbourhood parks. On the football side, however, what I do is watch my matches from previous years…just to keep my brain on football and help me stay in the game.”
Hassan, however, will have to remain patient for a while longer – the return date for the Singapore Premier League (SPL) remains up in the air, even as the country slowly but surely moves towards the easing of restrictions.
But even after the SPL is given the all-clear to resume, the veteran Singapore international believes that there will be changes that clubs and players will have to adapt to.
“As much as people in Singapore would love to see football again, I’m sure things won’t go back to normal,” said Hassan. “Case in point – I recently watched the Bundesliga and the Korean league, and they don’t have fans watching them. I’m sure that affects those players, and it would be the same thing for us as well.”
Since its official launch on June 10, our Lion City Sailors Football Academy – along with the announcement of an elite development programme scholarship worth S$1 million for promising young players – has been the talk of the footballing community in Singapore.
Modelled after some of the leading academies in Europe, our LCS Football Academy programme is geared towards grooming young talent in local football by creating a holistic environment to help them to grow and develop to the best of their potential.
This includes providing youth players access to a whole suite of professional services critical to the development of footballers, including nutritionists, sports psychologists, video analysts and sports doctors.
Our LCS Football Academy and its elite development programme has since been hailed by several local football observers as a boost for Singapore football, with Sailors midfielder Saifullah Akbar hailing this latest development as a step in the “right direction” for the local game.
Speaking to the official LCS website, the 21-year-old said: “The launch of the LCS Football Academy shows that our chairman is trying to build a youth set-up which is very similar to what they have in Europe, where they have not only football training sessions, but also cater time for students to focus on their studies.
“I personally think that’s the right strategy to develop youngsters, because it also ensures that they have a good educational background. So, I think the launch of the LCS Football Academy, as well as the elite development programme is a really positive thing, not only for our club, but for Singapore football as a whole.”
Having come through an academy as a young footballer, Saifullah understands first-hand how important it is for youth players to develop in a professional and well-rounded environment like the one offered by the LCS Football Academy.
“Being in a well-run academy like I was, helped a lot in my development,” he shared. “During my time as a trainee, we had things like motivational and nutritional talks…it had a positive impact on me because as a young kid, I needed all that knowledge. And when I grew up, this knowledge stayed with me, and I now apply it in my professional career, and it’s been going well so far.”
With our LCS Football Academy charting a viable career pathway into professional football – either through the senior squad of our Lion City Sailors, or through our vast contacts with overseas clubs – Saifullah believes it will provide an impetus for youth players in the academy to raise their game and work even harder to improve themselves.
“As a young player, if you have that kind of motivation to make it in professional football, you’ll work extra hard every day to try and achieve those goals,” said Saifullah.
“So, this career pathway is good because now everybody will be fighting for that goal, and will put on their A-game every single time. It drives players to push one another, which can bring the best out of them. This can help to produce very good footballers for Singapore.”
Nonetheless, while our LCS Football Academy will strive to provide the best for our players, Saifullah insists that one’s success in the game is really down to one’s own hard work, discipline and determination.
“There are no shortcuts for wanting to achieve your goals,” he declared. “So, my advice to the players coming through the LCS Football Academy would be to take note of the little things…to achieve your professional career goals.
“For myself…I would have very good sleep, eat good meals, and make sure my body is always in shape to bring out the best in me on the pitch.”
Million-dollar move by Sailors (Straits Times)
They were already a trailblazer for Singapore football as the country’s first privatised club in February and Lion City Sailors have again shown their ambition by committing $1 million to their Lion City Sailors (LCS) Football Academy.
Billionaire chairman Forrest Li hopes the revamped programme will help the Sailors grow into one of the top football clubs in Asia.
Lion City Sailors aim to develop talent good enough for Europe (ESPN)
Ambitious Singapore Premier League club Lion City Sailors on Wednesday announced a $1 million scholarship to develop local talent for the first team and for potentially playing abroad.
The Sailors took over Home United in 2020, a club that was previously one of Singapore football’s more prestigious teams with two league titles and six Singapore Cups to their names.
Lion City Sailors launch $1m programme to nurture young football talents (Yahoo)
Lion City Sailors (LCS), Singapore’s first privatised football club, have launched a $1 million scholarship programme to nurture the country’s young football talents.
The four-year Elite Development Programme will be the centrepiece initiative of the club’s revamped youth development centre, the LCS Football Academy.
Lion City Sailors umum tawaran biasiswa $1j untuk tingkat ekosistem bola sepak negara (Berita Harian)
KELAB bola sepak setempat, Lion City Sailors Football Club (LCSFC), hari ini mengumumkan langkah terbaharu dalam iltizamnya untuk meningkatkan ekosistem bola sepak Singapura, dengan pelancaran program biasiswa $1 juta.
Program biasiswa ini bertujuan memupuk kerjaya pemain bola sepak muda berbakat di negara ini.
新加坡互联网巨臂Sea入主本地足球队 (Fortune Times)
新加坡线上游戏与电子商务公司Sea公司（Sea Ltd） 上周五（14日）宣布，入主新加坡职业球队内政联足球俱乐部（Home United Football Club） ，并将之易名为狮城水手足球俱乐部（Lion City Sailors FC；狮城水手队）。
配合上述宣布，Sea公司也为狮城水手足球俱乐部推介了全新的标志、装备和全新阵容，以期开启新加坡足球发展史的全新时代。然后，在来临即将于2月29日掀开序幕的 新加坡超级足球联赛（Singapore Premier League；简称新超联赛） 全新赛季中，狮城水手队将在碧山体育场（Bishan Stadium）对垒新超联赛新科冠军文莱的DPMM球队。
The Launch of $1 Million EDP Scholarship by Lion City Sailors (Bolasepako)
Lion City Sailors Football Club (LCSFC) has announced the latest step in its commitment to enhancing Singapore’s football ecosystem, with the launch of a S$1 million scholarship programme – Elite Development Programme (EDP), designed to nurture the careers of the country’s most talented young footballers in a media statement issued by the only privately-owned club of the Singapore Premier League (SGPL).
Lion City Sailors Football Club (LCSFC) has announced the latest step in its commitment to enhancing Singapore’s football ecosystem, with the launch of a S$1 million scholarship programme designed to nurture the careers of the country’s most talented young footballers. The four-year pilot Elite Development Programme will be the centrepiece initiative of the club’s revamped in-house youth development centre, the LCS Football Academy.
Elite Development Programme designed to support the growth of Singapore’s most promising young talent
The Elite Development Programme is a key facet of the club’s vision to become an elite football development hub for Singapore, and will kick start with a 25-strong intake of 12-year-old aspirants who were born in 2008.
Complemented by specialist teams including nutritionists, sports psychologists, video analysts and sports doctors, the programme is modelled after the academies of leading professional European football clubs. It is aimed at creating an environment to instil on-field and off-field attributes that will provide a sturdy platform from which to launch professional careers beyond Singapore and into major leagues in Asia and Europe. The experience gained by Singaporeans playing in the top leagues internationally, with the subsequent sharing of knowledge and expertise among the national team set-up, will create a virtuous cycle that builds a positive environment for football development in Singapore.
The Elite Development Programme is built around the Singapore school curriculum to ensure that scholars continue to excel in academics while also receiving the best football education. This will feature weekly local matches, quarterly overseas training camps, an annual major overseas tournament, as well as training stints with top foreign clubs. The programme will also include a Professional Adaptation Programme to ease scholars back into the competitive professional football environment after completion of National Service, with a view to signing with an overseas club.
The scholarship covers all costs incurred during the course of training, insurance and apparel, with overseas camps and tournaments subsidised at 50 percent. On top of this, selected scholars will receive an additional cash allowance. These amount to S$250,000 invested in the programme per annum, totalling S$1 million over four years.
Interested applicants can visit the academy’s website for more details on the scholarship and submit their applications. Due to restrictions in place to battle the coronavirus outbreak, open selections for the scholarship will be announced at a later date.
Revamped programme builds upon foundations laid by LFA Protectors
The Elite Development Programme is the centrepiece initiative of the LCS Football Academy, the club’s revamped in-house talent development hub, formerly known as the LFA Protectors.
The LFA Protectors has demonstrated success in local competitive settings, driven by structured training programmes that emphasise technical development. The LCS Football Academy will now build on that and aim for the next level – to be competitive with the top youth teams in the region. This will be facilitated via a new all-rounded curriculum that includes sports science, fitness, nutrition and psychology related programmes, enhanced usage of modern technology that includes video analysis and player biodata tracking in training, and bringing in a Technical Director with European experience.
The LCS Football Academy will be helmed by Luka Lalic, who was Feyenoord Rotterdam’s Head of Methodology, International Development Coach before signing with the Sailors. He brings with him working expertise geared towards moulding young players into professional footballers. He will oversee the implementation of the Elite Development Programme that will start with the Under-13 squad all the way through to the U17s.
The LCS Football Academy also features paid programmes for children between six and 12 that will feature both boys’ and girls’ teams in all age groups.
The girls’ programme is based on the Football Know How methodology, with the Dutch pair of Hesterine de Reus, the former head coach of Australia’s Women’s national team, and former Dutch FA coach, Sandra Awondatu, as consultants.
The priority for the LCS Football Academy is to provide a pathway to professional careers in Singapore and globally for the country’s most talented boys and girls. That starts with a local development pathway, that for boys leads into the Sailors first team that plies its trade in the Singapore Premier League; and for girls, into the Lion City Sailors women’s team that competes in the Football Association of Singapore Women’s Premier League.
All squads in the LCS Football Academy will receive support from specialist teams that include sports doctors, nutritionists and sports psychologists.
Vision for the LCS Football Academy
“The LCS Football Academy underlines our commitment to Singapore football. Firstly, through the Elite Development Programme that will support the growth of the most promising players who have the talent not just to represent our club, but also our Lions. Secondly, our goal is to develop the greater ecosystem of Singapore football, from players to coaches through to specialist areas like nutrition and psychology,” said LCSFC Chairman, Forrest Li.
“Our vision is not just to make the Sailors one of the best football clubs in the region, but for the club to bring Singapore football as a whole to the next level.”
It is a vision that Lalic reveals was a critical factor behind his decision to put pen to paper.
“I have seen from my time in Singapore that there is football talent in the country. With the Elite Development Programme, these talents will now have an opportunity to develop into professionals in a top-level football environment. When you add to that the overall vision and commitment that Forrest and the club have towards football, it was an easy decision for me to make,” he said.
“I’m excited to get started with implementing a new technical programme based on the same parameters as the top academies in Europe. I look forward to seeing how far Singapore football will go, now that it’s given the right structure, tools and people,” added Luka.
Tan Li Yu, general manager of LCS Football Academy, formerly known as LFA Protectors, was equally excited about what lies ahead.
“In my nine years running football academies in Singapore, we’ve seen that young Singaporean footballers up to the age of 12 can compete with their counterparts from Europe and the rest of the world in global competitions like the Gothia Cup.
“Now with the added professionalisation of a holistic programme that includes consistent high-level competition, off-the-field tools to deal with the competitive nature of football, and a clear pathway into a professional career, I can’t wait to see what our players can achieve.
It may have been his birthday on Sunday (Mar 29), but instead of celebrating his special day at home, Sailor Zulqarnaen Suzliman was out and about early in the morning at Our Tampines Hub (OTH) to do his part in helping the community battle Covid-19.
More commonly known by his nickname “Mamat”, Zulqarnaen, along with three other Sailors – Saifullah Akbar, Naqiuddin Eunos, and Haiqal Pashia – was at OTH to distribute hand sanitisers to the community, as part of the #BYOBclean initiative by Temasek Foundation.
“Even though it’s my birthday today, I decided to volunteer my time with this #BYOBclean initiative because I think it’s important that all of us come together to fight this virus,” said Mamat.
“We have to treat this (virus) seriously and do what we can to beat it. But what I’m doing today is still nothing compared to the frontline healthcare workers, who are working hard and sacrificing a lot more every day.”
With the suspension of team trainings and the Singapore Premier League (SPL) currently on hold, Mamat did, however, admit that it has been tough adapting to life without football.
“Of course, I miss football a lot,” said Mamat. “I miss the training, the grind, and playing matches. But I know I have to be patient for now and wait till everything is fine.”
Agreeing, Sailor midfielder Saifullah added that he was taking no chances with the virus, and was following all the safety guidelines – such as staying at home as much as possible, observing social distancing, and wearing a mask when he goes out – closely.
The 21-year-old explained that he is extra cautious when it comes to the virus, as he lives with his elderly grandmother and baby sister.
“Because of how old they are, I think my grandmother and sister are more vulnerable to the virus, and I don’t want to do anything that will put them at risk,” said Saifullah. “I’d rather be safe than sorry, so I take all the necessary precautions to ensure that we remain healthy.
“Nonetheless, I still decided to come out here to OTH today to help out in this initiative because it’s the right thing to do. As Sailors, we have a responsibility to give back and contribute to the community whenever we can.”
Apart from Saifullah and Mamat, four other Sailors – Adam Swandi, Naqiuddin Eunos, Haiqal Pashia and team manager Herwandy Hamid – also made the trip down to OTH during the week to take part in this initiative.
All of us at Lion City Sailors are proud to join in Singapore’s fight against Covid-19!
1. The proverbial game of two halves
Make no mistake about it, we did not put up a good enough performance last night, hence the defeat. However, in football, there is a tendency to read too much into the scoreline, without looking at the whole picture. Yes, we did suffer a heavy loss, but the outcome could have been different if things went our way in the first half. After all, we were arguably the better side in the first 30 minutes, and created two great opportunities to score – first, when Song Uiyoung’s snapshot from the edge of the area crashed off the post, before Kaishu Yamazaki’s goal-bound header off Naqiuddin Eunos’s cross was denied by a point-blank save from Tampines custodian Syazwan Buhari. We eventually were made to pay for those misses as Tampines turned it on in the second half, while we simply failed to replicate the intensity and sharpness in our play which we displayed before the break.
2. Much needed: more games under the belt
This is only our second competitive fixture as a team. We have played a number of pre-season friendlies, but nothing beats playing in games where there are points at stake. Compare this to Tampines, who have now played eight (nine if you count the Community Shield) matches together. This became evident as the game went on, with the Tampines players showing greater familiarity with each other, allowing them to better carry out the coach’s instructions. The 12-day break between this match and our season-opener – the 1-1 draw against Tanjong Pagar United – also did have a visible effect on the team’s momentum. With more games under our belt, we’ll definitely be able to begin playing the sort of entertaining, fast and dynamic style of football that coach Aurelio Vidmar envisions for the team.
3. Having a settled team matters
Many have viewed us as title favourites after our recruitment exercise during the off-season that saw the arrivals of seasoned Singapore internationals like Hassan Sunny, Shahdan Sulaiman and Gabriel Quak. However, having good players does not automatically ensure success. This is still very much a new set-up with Coach Aurelio having just three months to work with the team so far. Defender Abdil Qaiyyim was the only one of last night’s back five who played for the club last year when it was still known as Home United. In addition, Song and Gabriel are playing in different positions as compared to previous seasons, while this is Pengelly’s first foray into professional football. Meanwhile, Coach Aurelio’s counterpart at Tampines, Gavin Lee, has been with the club since 2018, and is now into his second season as head coach. The Stags have also retained most of their players from last season, so most of them are already familiar with the gaffer’s preferred style. It is clear that Coach Aurelio should be given more time to implement his philosophy.
4. Give Pengelly the support he needs
It is true that Pengelly may need a bit more experience to be able to excel at this level. But as we’ve seen against Tanjong Pagar, he is a true poacher who, with the right service, can deliver in front of goal. Last night, the 22-year-old was unable to get as involved as he would have liked, arguably because there were not enough quality deliveries from his supporting cast. Thankfully, given that central midfield partners Shahdan and Song are usually able to play the killer passes, while wide men Hafiz Nor and Haiqal Pashia are also capable of delivering dangerous balls into the area, the potential is there for Pengelly to score more often in future.
5. Let’s not ring the alarm bells just yet
As cliche as it may sound, in football, you win some and you lose some. It is a disappointing defeat, no doubt, but it is still early in the season, and certainly does not warrant an overreaction. Tampines were the better team on the night, and we have to accept that. With 22 games still to go for the season, there is more than enough time for us to iron out the kinks. With a 17-day break till our next league game against Albirex Niigata (S), you can be assured that Coach Aurelio and the boys will be hard at work sorting out the issues from our first two outings. With Tampines, Albirex and Hougang having already dropped points, this season’s title race is already shaping up to be one of the most open in recent seasons. The onus is on us to get into gear, starting with the five games we have in April, so that we can stay in the title hunt.
Big-spending Lion City Sailors were held to a 1-1 draw by returning Tanjong Pagar United at the Jurong East Stadium on Friday (March 6), in their first Singapore Premier League (SPL) match.
The Sailors, who became Singapore’s first privatised football club after local billionaire Forrest Li and his tech firm Sea took ownership of former SPL club Home United last month, signed top national players like goalkeeper Hassan Sunny, midfielder Shahdan Sulaiman and forward Gabriel Quak to spearhead their charge for the SPL title this season.
Sailors all at sea in draw (Straits Times)
Big-spending Lion City Sailors were held to a 1-1 draw by returning Tanjong Pagar United at the Jurong East Stadium yesterday, in their first Singapore Premier League (SPL) match.
After a quarter of a century, Singapore football finally has its first privatised professional club.
In an exclusive interview with The Straits Times, billionaire Forrest Li revealed he will helm the Lion City Sailors Football Club, a new private entity that will replace two-time champions Home United in the Singapore Premier League (SPL).
Lion City Sailors are Singapore’s first privatised football club (Yahoo)
The Singapore Premier League (SPL) will see its first privatised professional football club, when the Lion City Sailors FC – formerly known as Home United – make their debut in the new season later this month.
Shopee’s parent company buys Home United, renames it ‘Lion City Sailors’ (Mothership)
Sea, which is the parent company of Shopee, Garena, and SeaMoney, is assuming 100 per cent ownership of Singapore Premier League club, Home United.
They will also be changing their name to Lion City Sailors.
Boost for Singapore football as Lion City Sailors become first-ever privatised local club, following takeover by leading homegrown internet company Sea.
Singapore, February 14, 2020 – Lion City Sailors FC – formerly known as Home United Football Club – will make its debut in the upcoming Singapore Premier League (SPL) season under the new ownership of leading homegrown internet company, Sea.
The club today unveiled its new name, kit, and squad for the 2020 season, and set out its aim to achieve success in the SPL and spark a new era of development for Singapore football.
Local internet company Sea brings passion for football, management excellence
Sea, Singapore’s largest consumer internet company and parent of Shopee, Garena, and SeaMoney, is assuming 100% ownership of the club. Forrest Li, the founder, Chairman and Group CEO, of Sea, will serve as Chairman of Lion City Sailors FC.
Mr. Li said: “Sea is proud to be a Singaporean company, and we are proud to play our part in elevating Singapore football to the next level. By uniting with a club with a rich heritage, exceptional fans, and a great organisation, we intend for Lion City Sailors to set a new benchmark for footballing excellence in Singapore and the region.
“As a passionate fan myself, I know that Singapore has a huge community of people who love football, and our hope is that Lion City Sailors will strengthen that passion and ignite a new era for the development of the game locally. We look forward to supporting the development of Lion City Sailors and guiding this great club into a new period of success.”
Lion City Sailors represent a natural extension of Sea’s long-standing commitment to the development of Singapore football, which includes Garena’s sponsorship of the Young Lions in 2016. Mr. Li has also been on the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) Council since 2017.
Outgoing Chairman of Home United, Winston Wong, said: “We are proud of all that the club has achieved over the years, and proud to pass the baton over to Sea, a company that shares our passion for football, commitment to community, and focus on achieving success.
“Thanks to the hard work of the club’s management committee over the years, the club is in a strong position both on and off the field, and ready for the next phase of success with Sea. All of us are excited to see the club reach even greater heights in the years to come.”
Accomplished coach and star signings to ignite the 2020 SPL season
Lion City Sailors are targeting domestic silverware and a place in the AFC Champions League in the coming season. With its sights firmly set on success in 2020, the Sailors will be led by Head Coach Aurelio Vidmar, the former captain of the Australian national football team. Vidmar joins the club after a hugely successful stint in Australia, where he led Adelaide United to the 2008 AFC Champions League final, becoming the first Australian team to earn this distinction.
The team has also been augmented with some key off-season signings including Lions stalwarts Hassan Sunny, Gabriel Quak, and Shahdan Sulaiman; Japanese defender Kaishu Yamazaki; as well as prolific Australian forward, Andy Pengelly.
Outlining the club’s ambitions for the upcoming season, Head Coach Aurelio Vidmar said: “The players and staff have worked really hard over the pre-season to lay the foundations for success this season. This is a hugely exciting moment for the club and we will work hard to give our fans a lot to cheer about this season.”
Launch of new club set to catalyse Singapore football
The launch of Lion City Sailors is set to inject fresh momentum for the SPL, with the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) welcoming more corporate involvement that can invigorate the league. The FAS has identified this pilot project as an opportunity to build a sustainable model for local football that will encourage other corporate partners to follow suit.
The President of the FAS, Mr. Lim Kia Tong, expressed confidence that Sea’s involvement will strengthen the league. Remarking on Sea’s takeover of the club, Mr Lim said: “The FAS is committed to enhancing the professionalism of the SPL in order to establish it as a quality product. This pilot project is a significant milestone for the league as it enters its 25th season and marks a historical chapter that could potentially shape the future of the professional football landscape in Singapore. Sea has a proven track record of building and managing successful businesses, and the FAS has complete confidence in their ability to steer the club to new heights.”
Focus on youth development remains key to club’s vision of success
Youth development will remain an integral part of Lion City Sailors’ DNA as the club looks to groom the next generation of talents and bolster the ranks of its senior setup, as well as the Singapore national team.
“We aim to provide our youths the best possible platform to pursue their passion for football and develop their talents,” Mr. Li added. Plans are in the works to enhance the structure of the current youth academy.
The new SPL season kicks off on 29 February 2020, where the Sailors will take on defending champions Brunei DPMM at the Bishan Stadium.