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SFA Fiesta: Kicking Off 2024 to a Roaring Start

The air horn sounded, the ball soared and players decked out in their knee-high socks and cleats broke out in a flurry of excitement on the pitch. Coaches watched their players’ every move with hawk eyes as parents spectated with eager anticipation from the sidelines. After a dozen kicks, several strategic passes and a shot into the goal post, elated cheers and fist bumps erupted to celebrate a hard-fought win. 


That was the scene that set the stage for School Football Academy (SFA) Fiesta 2024. 


Over 300 student-athletes from various SFA schools, alongside their teachers, coaches and parents gathered at Seng Kang Secondary School on 17 February for the annual football tournament. Despite the quiet of weekend mornings that enveloped the school grounds, the buzz on the fields that Saturday was palpable as adrenaline pumped through the veins of every jersey-clad player waiting enthusiastically for their time on the pitch. 


View the full event photos here 📸


Photo caption: Boys from Jurongville Secondary and Bendemeer Secondary battling it out on the pitch for the ball. 


This year, the SFA Fiesta brought together 12 boys’ and 8 girls’ football teams from various secondary schools under the SFA, with a fresh focus on lower secondary cohorts. 


As an Unleash the Roar! (UTR!) initiative launched in July 2022, the SFA programme complements our national movement to boost local football by opening up pathways for youth football development, producing technically sound players who are confident to play on the global stage. 


Mr David Kwong, a teacher from Serangoon Garden Secondary School, shared his enthusiasm for the SFA programme: “Now, we can see a very clear structure when it comes to training and coaching. The students are visual learners, so when the coaches use their tools and tactics to engage them, they are more inclined to learn.”


Under the SFA, players aged 13 to 16 will train regularly with a team of full-time coaches and play not only in the National School Games, but also in other competitions, or go for overseas training stints—while following a structured training programme which makes use of sport science.


“We use sport science to help supplement the training programme. This can aid coaches to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of the players so they can tailor the training accordingly to each individual,” said Marcus Lee, a sport scientist from Unleash The Roar!. 


He added that the players have been receptive to their proposed suggestions, like the wearing of a GPS device to track how much they move during a game, which provides them with feedback on their performance. 


Photo caption: The match between Woodlands Secondary and Dunman Secondary that finished off the girls’ games for the day with a 1-0 score. 


The Woodlands Secondary girls’ team led their school to the championship with a decisive score of 1-0 against Dunman Secondary School. The girls’ remarkable team spirit was also displayed in a previous match against the schools clustered under centre-based CCA consisting of Boon Lay Secondary, Methodist Girls’ School and Westwood Secondary, where they won with an impressive 5-0 score.


Durga Devi and Nur Erina Batrisya from the Woodlands Secondary girls’ team found the SFA Fiesta to be a good opportunity to compete against players with varying skill levels and show their support for other athletes. “I enjoyed the games. It’s fun because we get to play with different schools with different strengths, which can help us improve for the upcoming games,” said Durga.


Photo caption: SFA girls teams from Woodlands Secondary, a cluster team made up of Boon Lay Secondary, Methodist Girls’ School and Westwood Secondary, along with new entrants to the SFA programme Dunman Secondary and Deyi Secondary.


Montfort Secondary boys also went home with the championship title in a 1-0 win against Seng Kang Secondary School. As a secondary 1 student, this SFA Fiesta was Joash’s first SFA tournament. “The matches were exciting. Despite the short game time, our team performed well and made it to the finals,” said the Montfort Secondary student. 


Photo caption: Montfort Secondary boys celebrating their victory with a jubilant team cheer. 


New additions to the SFA programme this year include Deyi Secondary, Dunman Secondary, Chung Cheng High (Yishun), Naval Base Secondary, Northland Secondary, Singapore Chinese Girls’ School, Yishun Secondary and Bedok View Secondary with Bedok View falling under the boys’ programme and the rest, under the girls’ programme.


“I think the first few matches were quite tough for us because a lot of us don’t have much experience. Later on, we started to adapt and work better together to secure a win in the final match,” said Eden Toh from Bedok View Secondary School, who was also participating in the fiesta for the first time alongside his teammates. 


Mdm Nur Hazwah from Bedok View shared her positive experiences with the SFA programme: “We’ve only just started the programme but it’s been amazing so far. We heard about the SFA and wanted to get onboard with the programme as there are experienced coaches, many of whom are ex-national players, and structured training sessions.”


Off the pitch, guests also sat in for a parent engagement session in the school hall, where they learned about the SFA programmes and initiatives with an informative sport science segment. After the talk, parents helped themselves to a buffet and spoke with sport science professionals from Unleash The Roar! about how their technologies are helping to support their children in their athletic journeys. 


Photo caption: Marcus Lee, a sport scientist from Unleash The Roar!, speaking with a parent at the engagement session. 


Eric Tollemer, the father of Julien from Bedok View Secondary School, attended the engagement session and said he felt fortunate that his son got to be a part of the programme after learning about what it entailed. “It looked like a really advanced programme with professional training that’s not normally offered in school,” said Eric. 


“During the session, I was impressed to learn that they not only looked at the physical aspects, but also the psychology behind the game. It is a very holistic programme,” he added. 


Led by Sport Singapore and the Football Association of Singapore, the SFA programme is vital to a robust youth development ecosystem by ensuring high-level quality football training.


Photo caption: Players from the schools clustered under centre-based CCA consisting of Boon Lay Secondary, Methodist Girls’ School and Westwood Secondary catching their breaths during a group briefing by their coach. 


“Ultimately, the goal is to nurture our young players by giving them a chance to learn from the experienced coaches and support them with the necessary resources,” said Coach Tina Afrida, an ex-national player who coaches Dunman Secondary School’s girls’ team. 


As these lower secondary students embark on their footballing journey under the SFA programme, exciting things, too, await the larger SFA initiative this year. With the inaugural Singapore Youth League (SYL) recently launched on 6 February 2024, the SFA is proud to send a combined team to compete in the league. Let’s follow their journey and get involved in supporting our aspiring young players to let them play and help them roar!


Photo caption: The boys’ SFA programme sees a new addition with the team from Bedok View Secondary School. 


The full list of schools under the SFA programme as of 23 February 2024:

(1) Anglo-Chinese School (Barker Road)

(2) Assumption English School

(3) Bendemeer Secondary School

(4) Boon Lay Secondary School-Methodist Girls’ School-Westwood Secondary School

(Girls)*

(5) Bedok View Secondary School

(6) Chung Cheng High School (Yishun)-Naval Base Secondary School-Northland Secondary School-Singapore Chinese Girls’ School-Yishun Secondary School (Girls)*  

(7) Deyi Secondary School (Girls) 

(8) Dunman Secondary School (Girls) 

(9) Jurongville Secondary School

(10) Montfort Secondary School

(11) Seng Kang Secondary School

(12) Serangoon Garden Secondary School

(13) Singapore Sports School

(14) Woodlands Secondary School (Girls)

(15) Yishun Secondary School


*Schools are clustered under Centre-Based CCA, with players training together in the SFA Programme.

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