Dec 11, 2021 - FAS
Part 1: SFC Soccer Schools 2021
Just like many other industries, football all over the world too has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. While the professional game in Malaysia has managed to continue on except for several suspensions and postponements that were implemented in accordance with the government's directives, many aspects of the sport had to be put on the backburner for the time being.
One area of football that Selangor FC were forced to put on hold after the outbreak was youth and grassroots development, despite the plans and ideas that had been formulated.
The Selangor FC Soccer Schools initiative had first been launched in September 2019, aimed at providing school-aged children throughout the state of Selangor with consistent and organised football training through the participation of their schools. The idea is that they will be put through basic training in the fundamentals regardless of their level and apparent potential, geared more towards engagement and participation than getting the best of these young trainees. When it was first launched, five primary schools were involved, with the ambitious idea of expanding the list to 20 within just one year.
Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic broke out throughout the globe just months afterwards, putting the Selangor FC Soccer Schools plans on hold. For nearly two years, recreational activities were severely restricted and schools were closed to curtail the spread of the virus, which meant that the programme could provide no training to the registered school children from early to 2020 up to now.
But being able to adapt and adjust to changes is important to Selangor FC, and our Soccer Schools and its head Mr. Kanason Rajagobal still managed to run a number of alternative programmes despite the challenges.
Among the events that the Soccer Schools managed to organise was one-off training sessions at the FAS Training Centre, between the nationwide lockdowns, as well as online sharing sessions with pupils from three schools. The latter even saw the involvement of two of the club's players, Danial Asri and Tim Heubach.
"We still managed to hold one-off training clinics involving two schools and SA United's academy, as a part of the Soccer Schools' engagement this year," explained Kanason.
As the effectiveness of youth development hinges on the quality of the youth coaches, the Soccer Schools also made the effort to provide an onboarding course to around 30 of its coaches, who are composed mostly of the participating schools' teachers who have been tasked with coaching football.
"Under the onboarding programme, we explained the mission, vision and objective of the project, and we also had Michael (Selangor FC Sporting Director and first team Head Coach Michael Feichtenbeiner) come and speak about grassroots football."
But at the end of the day, it is the in-person activities that are crucial to the programme, and Kanason revealed a backup plan by the Soccer Schools, should sporting activities remain restricted in schools in 2022.
"We have a plan to restart [our training] outside of schools at public fields owned by the city and local councils, while waiting for the schools to reopen.
"Training will be held weekly, just like how we would have organised it at schools. It will be held at two locations for now, maybe three, depending on the demand," he noted.
However, the original plan to train children throughout the state at their own schools remains, and the Soccer Schools is expecting more schools to join up for 2022 as further Covid-19 restrictions at schools are being lifted.
"15 schools have expressed their interest in joining this programme next year, while we are targeting to get 20 involved in 2022 if the pandemic does not get in the way again.
"We have been working with the Selangor State Education Department to get more schools to participate," noted the Head of SFC Soccer Schools.
In part two of the story next week, Kanason will provide more detail on Selangor FC Soccer Schools' core values and plans for the coming years.