Juniors on world stage

Juniors on world stage

Atalented young group of local soccer players has returned from Singapore after competing at the SingaCup2023.


Seventeen youngsters from the Limestone Coast made the trip to Singapore, joining with other juniors from across Australia to form a series of aged-based teams.


The SingaCup featured a group stage, quarter finals, semi finals and grand final.


Mount Gambier’s Christian Fleetwood coached the under 16 Football South Australia regional side that finished fourth in what was a tough group stage.


“We had the largest group going over with 17 kids which is a great show of success I think and hopefully it increases next year,” Fleetwood said.


“The experience over there was a big learning curve for every player that went, as they had to adjust to the conditions playing in 30 degree heat with 90% humidity which is a huge physical challenge.”


Fleetwood said the young players were playing two games a day in the heat which proved a physical challenge.


“Just being able to play in those conditions the kids should be proud of themselves,” he said.


“I think that a few would have been a bit more hungry for success but it was a good learning experience for them and myself too.”


The under 16 boys side was quite competitive against a strong Singapore side that eventually progressed to win the grade.


“We were left feeling a bit disappointed for the kids that we did not have more success, after being competitive against the top side from Singapore who would go on to win the grade,” Fleetwood 


said.


“The teams from Asia are full time academies will lots of resources, well organised good quality teams.”


Fleetwood believes the performance against Indonesia was not a good representation of his side’s skill.


“We were probably less competitive against the Indonesian team but I think that came down to performances on the day,” he said.


The side also competed against teams from the Philippines and Melbourne.


Fleetwood said he hoped the experience would give the youngsters a better idea of the quality of players around Asia and perhaps help push them to improve further.


“I hope the whole experience gives the kids a bit of a reality check as to what the quality is like in Asia as it is on our doorstep,” he said.


“I’m hopeful the kids have a bit more perspective as to where they rate compared to that, as you do not just compare yourself to people here in our state and our country, but comparing people who are overseas.”


Fleetwood said he was impressed with the teams from South East Asia, which had produced some good quality players.


“There are even better teams in Asia like ones from Japan and Korea, they produce quality players,” he said.


“Hopefully they will take the experience with a growth mindset and say this is an area of my game I need to improve and inspire them to continue to develop.”


Fleetwood believes the SingaCup experience will not just improve the players’ soccer but also themselves as people.


“The experience of being in another country cannot be underestimated, and hopefully that has expanded their minds a little bit as to where they fit in the world,” he said.


“But I think the main take away of a huge learning experience is for people to compare themselves and see where they measure up.”


Fleetwood is looking forward to local youngsters taking part in more overseas competitions and visits in the future.


“Hopefully people take some notice of what we did in Singapore,” he said.


“It does not have to be Football SA that takes these kids over there and hopefully that’s a lesson to the clubs and associations there are plenty of great experiences with football within our region.”


The trip to Singapore was made possible thanks to local support and plenty of fundraising by the families involved.


“It would not have been possible without that,” Fleetwood said.


“It was great to have support from the parents as well to be able to get those kids over there.”


Member for Barker Tony Pasin donated Australian flags for the teams.

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