National Teams – Age-group ● Oct 05, 2018

FFA U18 trio train with Albirex first team

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SINGAPORE, 5 OCT 2018 – In the latest move by the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) to develop young players, three FAS Football Academy (FFA) Under-18 players were invited to train with Singapore Premier League 2018 Champions Albirex Niigata (S) FC’s first team last month.

The trio of Joel Chew, Rezza Rezky and Akmal Azman joined in five training sessions at the Jurong East stadium that took place between 18 and 28 September.

This stint was organised by FFA U-18 Head Coach Takuya Inoue, who wants to push his players beyond their comfort zone.

The sessions were an educational experience for the boys, with training in a professional club a step up from what they are used to.

“It has been really challenging in a lot of aspects, from their ball work to the hard work that they put in every single day,” 17-year-old Akmal told the FAS website.

Joel, 18, added: “The training sessions were great and an eye-opener for me. Looking (at) and experiencing first-hand how professionals go about their training is really fascinating and makes me want to adopt the type of attitude they have.”

For Joel, the stint also served as preparation for his trip to Japan for a ten-day training attachment with J2 League side Omiya Ardija, which began on 2 October.

“I feel that these trainings have prepared me mentally for what is in store, by knowing how the Japanese are (like in training),” he shared.

A LESSON IN PROFESSIONALISM
Tough training aside, the boys were impressed with the professionalism of the Albirex players.

“In Albirex, they always come to training one hour earlier for their own self-training and stretching. Over there (at FFA trainings) we come about 30-35 minutes early, so we don’t have much time”’ said Rezza, 17.

The training sessions were also useful as the FFA boys could mingle with the Albirex players, who were welcoming and helpful.

“They gave us advice on how to run during the game with the ball, (such as)what to do and what not to do,” said Rezza.

Azmal added: “They are really, really friendly and they tried talking to us in English (as much as they can)…They try to make training less stressful for us so we can perform at our best.”
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
While the boys have given Albirex Head Coach Kazuaki Yoshinaga (above, photo courtesy of Leo Shengwei) a good first impression, he highlighted the physical aspect of the game as one area of improvement.

They are really good with their technique and (also) tactically. They are young, so they need to improve physically. It is better for them to train here in an environment that has more intensity so they can improve more,” he said.

Yoshinaga hoped that the impact of the training stint will go beyond just what Joel, Rezza and Azmal learnt during these five sessions.

“I hope that they (the three boys) bring this experience back to their home (FFA) team, so they can share about it and so they can have a good influence for the entire team,” he said.

“I personally hope there are more opportunities like these for the young players. They should have more chances to play at a higher level.”