An Overview of the Development Program By Dennis Bekking

The official MFL Cup, President's Cup and Youth Cup matches involving Selangor FC's development squads have officially ended for this season under the supervision of Dennis Bekking's first year as the Red Giants' Technical Director.

Looking back, all three development teams managed to dominate in the group stage finishing as leaders of their respective groups in the MFL Cup, President's Cup and Youth Cup. The under-18 squad finished the Youth Cup tournament as defending champions for two consecutive years with an unbeaten record. Besides that, the under-20 squad finished their campaign in the Semi-Finals of the President's Cup. Meanwhile, the under-23 squad finished the MFL Cup in 4th place of Liga Juara stage in the first year the competition was organised.

According to Selangor FC's Technical Director, the main aim should be to foster a winning culture, both on and off the field.

“The style of play that we are trying to apply is possession based. Basically, the intention is to dominate on the pitch. It is about proactiveness, initiative, leadership, spaces, awareness, distances and intelligent decision making. Of course, once we lose the ball, we try to regain possession as fast and as high as possible. However when dealing with young players, the main focus should be on how we want to play (Style and Principles of Play) instead of (only) preventing the opponent from playing. Teaching players how to read the game, recognise situations, utilise and take advantage of spaces and enabling them to make their own choices and decisions is what it’s all about.

“One of the main focuses for the first year is trying to create a high-performance culture, which means that, instead of only focussing on winning games, we're trying to create a winning culture. In order to do this, staff and player behaviours are very important. 100% effort is not to be considered as something special. It is the standard! Deciding on common “non-negotiables” is important. Creating an environment where honest feedback is appreciated, without taking things personal is not always a given. Empowering staff and players puts a certain responsibility and demand and therefore accountability. It is part of the learning environment we are trying to create. In such an environment safety is very important. It means players and coaches are not only expected to win, but are allowed to fail as this process often provides valuable lessons.

“Selangor FC is about giving our high potential players an early opportunity to play at (and get accustomed to) a higher level. The starting line-up for the U23’s frequently consisted of several U18 players. Roughly, looking at the MFL U23 starting line-up over the whole season, 25% of the players we used were of U18 age, 43% of U20 age and 32% of U23 age. We didn’t use overaged (senior) players, something that clearly sets us apart from other teams.

“We are trying to create a development pathway that leads to developing future 1st team starters. Many players this season have been given opportunities to play and train with the 1st team. With 6 players making their 1st team debut and a consistent National Call-up for a large number of young players I believe Selangor FC is on the right path.

“Winning games is not the main indicator of success at development level. Sustainably developing players into starting line-up positions is. Our main aim is to help and develop players while maximising their potential. In order to do that, we need to create an environment that enables that, demands excellence and leaves no space for excuses and compromises. In terms of Team Value Management, Player Development is commonly known to be the best proven and sustainable method for creating long(er) term success. To do this properly it requires the club, staff and players to be open to change and at times even be comfortable to be uncomfortable. This requires discipline, communication and at times letting go of what has been considered to be the way or the standard for years. It's about mindset, drive, commitment and passion. Nobody ever grew from comfort zones.”

Selangor FC congratulates progress made by the Red Giants Development squads during the 2023 season. Hopefully growth and development will push our talents to an even higher level in 2024. 

Demi Kebanggaan.