SINGAPORE: The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) on Thursday (Jun 22) unveiled a new initiative to better support national team players and prepare them for life after football.
Spearheaded by former Singapore international Baihakki Khaizan, the FAS Players’ Concierge is a “support system” for the budding careers and livelihood of current players and provides retired football players with the necessary tools to support their growth beyond their playing careers, said FAS in a news release.
The FAS Players’ Concierge builds on two aspects of the National Players Welfare Program, namely a cash incentive and scholarship credits for national players based on their number of international caps earned.
The initiative now comprises six pillars – International Cap Bonus, Scholarship Credits, Job Opportunities, Education Partnership, Coaching Pathways and Overseas Support – which are meant to address the needs and concerns of professional football players looking to make the career transition from the pitch to off the pitch.
Speaking on the sidelines of the three-day UEFA Career Assist Workshop held in Singapore from Tuesday to Thursday, Baihakki said that the additional pillars are to empower players and provide a new direction for them as they move on to a new stage of life.
“We are not there to dictate their life, we want to encourage them to go through these doors,” he added.
For one, the initiative aims to connect ex-players with various sectors in order to facilitate job opportunities and professional networking. The goal is to support them in finding meaningful employment beyond their playing careers, said FAS.
Based on the conversations he has had, companies in private sectors are receptive to employing ex-footballers, added Baihakki.
For those who are interested in staying within football, the coaching pathways pillar will offer tailored programmes to becoming certified coaches by providing a more “efficient and supportive” process for them.
Under a collaboration with Republic Polytechnic, ex-players can also “fast-track” their educational journey through diploma programs. “The initiative seeks to equip players who wish to further their education prospects with academic qualifications that will enhance their career prospects and personal development,” said FAS.
Current international players who may be facing challenges while playing overseas can also stand to benefit from overseas support which can range from accommodation arrangements to financial aid.
The long term goal of the initiative is to show the parents of the next generation of aspiring footballers that there are opportunities after a playing career, said Baihakki.
“I hope how the concierge positions itself will allow parents to now say that there is something after football,” he said. “With the UTR (Unleash The Roar) project, we are focusing more on youth. Hopefully, this could be one of the bridges that could parents … say yes (to) professional football”