Lion City Sailors aim to develop talent good enough for Europe

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.

Parent company Sea has been ambitious after taking over Home United -- with their latest effort coming in establishing this scholarship for the club's youth academy.

Formally known as the "Elite Development Programme," the scholarship is scheduled to begin later this year -- depending on the easing of the coronavirus pandemic -- with a 25-player class of 12-year-old prospects.

The $1 million will be split over four years and will cover costs players may incur through training, insurance and apparel. It will also include allowances.

"The LCS Football Academy underlines our commitment to Singapore football," said club 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."

LCS Football Academy will also have other programmes catering to different levels of competition, featuring boys' and girls' teams in all age groups between six and 12.

"I'm excited to get started with implementing a new technical programme based on the same parameters as the top academies in Europe," said the academy's new technical director Luka Lalic, who joins from the staff of Dutch giants Feyenoord. "I look forward to seeing how far Singapore football will go, now that it's given the right structure, tools and people."