Michel Sablon, who was officially unveiled as the new technical director of the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) on Thursday (Apr 9), has said youth development in Singapore is an area that must be addressed.
The 67-year-old Belgian, who has been appointed by the FAS on a two-year contract, said this during his official presentation at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Thursday.
“First of all, I need to analyse. We first need to look out for the positive things and elaborate from there,” said Sablon. “Let me give you an example, we have academies which are in clubs and the FAS to develop youths and the way we do things here could be changed or improved.”
He added: “It’s a plan which is first of all based on the different age categories. We start from under-7, under-8, till under-18. That will be the basic thing, what we can learn from each level. Each level has its specific learning points. A child of nine years is not the same as the child at 12 years old.”
Part of Sablon’s plan is to improve the quality of coaches, through workshops and conferences – and he is confident that the efforts will lead to better results.
“I cannot imagine when you do all these for two years, that we don’t see the difference. I think you can see the difference after one year, from the way of playing. I saw some games from the national youth teams and so on, I think it can be improved,” he said.
“We have to give the coaches the opportunity to learn more and to be better coaches. When they improve themselves, they improve the players. And when the players are better, the teams are better.”
Sablon is best known for his stint as technical director at the Royal Belgian Football Association, where he drew up their long-term strategic blueprint that transformed Belgium’s footballing fortunes which had dipped in the nineties.
The system has since produced the likes of Premier League stars Eden Hazard, Vincent Kompany, Marouane Fellaini and Thibaut Courtois – all part of Belgium’s golden generation that reached the quarter-finals of last year’s World Cup in Brazil, where they lost 1-0 to eventual finalists Argentina.
Sablon was also assistant to then-Belgium national coach Guy Thys at the 1986 World Cup, where they finished fourth, and was part of his country’s coaching staff at the 1990 and 1994 World Cups.