Lion City Sailors, PUMA launch YCL football tournament

A football tournament for young Singapore footballers was launched by Singapore Premier League side Lion City Sailors on Thursday (Aug 18). 

Called the Youth Champions League (YCL), the tournament is sponsored by sports brand PUMA – the same brand that supplies Lion City Sailors kits – and is intended to raise youth football standards in Singapore by providing a higher form of competition for the local youth teams.

The two-year title sponsorship by PUMA is worth $280,000, said the Lion City Sailors in an announcement. 

The inaugural edition of the YCL will run from September 2022 to May 2023 and feature six age groups – Under-10 to Under-16 – with six teams in each division. A total of 360 games will be played, with the games split into two seasons, from September 2022 to December 2022 and from February 2023 to May 2023. 

Competition regulations for each age-group, including group size, pitch size and game duration in accordance with best practices adopted by the broader football world, will be put in place.

A champion of each age-group category will be crowned at the end of every season.

The YCL will also have a consistent social media presence. Its various channels will produce content such as team features, player interviews and match highlights of all 360 matches packaged weekly according to age category.

Earlier this year in February, the Sailors signed a three-year partnership with Dutch football club Feyenoord with a focus on youth development and education.

It has since allowed the Sailors to gain insight into the structure of the Feyenoord Academy football system which has contributed to the launch of YCL, which is “similar to the Dutch model” according to Feyenoord Rotterdam’s Head of Academy, Rini Coolen. 

Razali Saad, Programme Director of  Unleash The Roar!’s (UTR!) School Football Academies (SFA) believes that the YCL will play an important role in contributing to the UTR! Project in the long term.

He said: “Having a high-level competition where the best youth teams can face off against each other is a good opportunity for development. This is also a great platform not only for players to perform, but coaches and referees to test and progress in their craft.”

John Morris, the Tournament Director of the PUMA YCL and Sailors’ Head, Commercial, added that the PUMA YCL will not only drive further development within the club, but across the football fraternity here. 

He shared: “Such tournaments (age-group appropriate high-level tournaments) are not available in Singapore, and we’re delighted that with support from our partners and sponsors we’re able to create the YCL that will bring together Singapore’s best youth footballers and in regular high-level competition, to test themselves.”