The Singapore Youth League (SYL), co-organised with Football Association of Singapore (FAS) and Sport Singapore (SportSG), was officially launched at the National Stadium on 6th February 2024.
The league, an initiative under the Unleash the Roar! (UTR!) national football project, is Singapore’s inaugural nation-wide elite youth football competition and is set to feature over 200 registered teams from 52 clubs and academies across various age groups. The list of participating teams includes St Michaels’ Soccer Association, Flair Football Academy, the Singapore Premier League’s Lion City Sailors, and invited teams the likes of Malaysia’s Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT).
The launch of the Singapore Youth League signifies a collaborative effort with the fraternity to foster a robust youth development ecosystem for Singaporean football. Photo by Ng Chrong Meng.
A firm foundation for talent development
The SYL is designed to provide aspiring youth players a robust, competitive platform to gain match experience during their developmental years and showcase their talent. To this end, the SYL provides youth players regular matches against opposition at a similar level of football, in an inclusive league that is aimed at individual development in terms of football skills as well as sporting values.
The league, open to both boys and girls, will cater to six age groups (Under-8, Under-10, Under-12, Under-13, Under-15, and Under-17) and serve as the primary pipeline for future Singapore internationals, with nearly 3,800 youth players competing in about 1,100 matches per season.
Prior to the inaugural season, teams league will undergo an initial classification round of matches to help determine each team’s level. Based on the results of the classification round, teams will be placed in divisions consisting of sides of similar strength for the league proper.
The SYL will include a promotion/relegation feature across all age groups, where teams can move up or down divisions based on performance.
Teams in the SYL will play an average of about 30 games per season – more than any other youth league in the past. And because of the league’s classification system, these matches will pit teams of similar levels against each other ensuring that competitive balance is maintained throughout the season.
FAS President Bernard Tan shared his opening remarks with the representatives from different clubs and academies at OCBC Lounge. Photo by Ng Chrong Meng.
Speaking at the event, FAS President Bernard Tan said, “If Singapore is to have a footballing future, it is clear that the fundamental thing we need is a structured development system for our children that will bring them to greater heights.” He added that the SYL is built on “five key pillars – regular matches, competition at the right level, emphasis on development over results, inculcation of sporting values, and inclusivity.”
The SYL will also provide a platform for the development of women’s football in Singapore. Clubs can register all-girls teams that will play one age category lower— this means they will compete against boys one to two years younger.
Four all-girls teams – two from the Junior National Development Centre (JNDC) and two from the National Development Centre (NDC) – will feature when the SYL kicks off later this month.
SportSG Deputy Chief Executive Toh Boon Yi shared his vision for the youth league. Photo by Ng Chrong Meng.
“The SYL reinforces our support towards developing all levels of Singapore football. Through the SYL we are going back to basics, revitalising our grassroots, and nurturing the untapped potential of our youth talent,” said SportSG Deputy Chief Executive, Toh Boon Yi.
“We are confident the SYL will provide a robust platform for our young talents to flourish. More than just a football league, it is a manifestation of our commitment to building a pipeline that will contribute to Singapore football – and the local sporting fabric – for years to come,” he added.
Football fraternity excited to get started
Soaring Dreams Football Academy Director Deniel Ong, believes that the SYL augurs well for the future of youth football in Singapore. “As an academy director, and more importantly a die-hard Singapore football fan, I believe that the SYL is a big step forward in increasing the level of participation and standards amongst the youth here in Singapore.”
His views were echoed by Ibrahim Chemad, Director of Flair Football Academy, which has been in operation since 2019. "I’m excited about the enhanced playing opportunities that our players will enjoy in the upcoming SYL season,” he said. “While we are obviously targeting success in the league for our participating teams, our broader focus is on the holistic development of each player as they grow and excel in the game.”
For nine-year-old Kieron Ong who will play in the U10 category for Soaring Dreams Football Academy, there is palpable excitement in the lead up to kick-off. “I am looking forward to playing with and against many of my friends in the SYL. I know that the games are going to be difficult, but I want to play against the strongest players and show what I can do,” said Kieron.
“Maybe I can also get spotted by scouts and play for Singapore one day. Hopefully we can win the league!”
From left to right: SportSG Deputy Chief Executive Toh Boon Yi, FAS Technical Director Michael Browne and FAS Lead in Special Projects and former Lions Baihakki Khaizan at the SYL team draw. Photo by Ng Chrong Meng.
The inaugural season of the Singapore Youth League will run from 24 February – 1 December 2024. The league will crown champions across every age group after 33 match days of competition.
Schedules, scores, and updates can be found at syl.sg or via Singapore Youth League on Instagram, TikTok and Facebook.
Adapted from media release by Football Association of Singapore (https://www.fas.org.sg/singapore-youth-league-2024-launch/)