Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Suwandi To Metz

SINGAPORE — French stars Robert Pires and Louis Saha, former Cameroon captain Rigobert Song and Togo forward Emmanuel Adebayor are some of the famous names who have featured at FC Metz’s 26,700-seat Stade Municipal Saint-Symphorien after coming through its famous youth academy.
And the French third division side sees similar potential in Singapore’s Adam Swandi.
The former National Football Academy Under-16 captain — who was outstanding at the 2011 and 2012 Lion City Cups — caught the eye of Metz’s Youth Academy Director Denis Schaeffer during his week-long training stint with the club last November.
In an e-mail interview, Schaeffer believes two-time French Cup winners Metz can mould the 17-year-old Singaporean — who left for France last night after signing a two-year youth contract with them — into a top-class footballer.
“The coaches and I were very impressed with what we saw in Adam when he was with us,” said Schaeffer.
“For Adam, I believe he can only get better with FC Metz, and this will be good for Singapore football in the near future. We will be in constant contact with the FAS (Football Association of Singapore) to update them on Adam’s progress — both on the pitch and in the classroom.”
The FAS, which announced Adam’s move on Saturday, is footing the bill of approximately S$200,000 for his studies from its Football Development Fund, which is used to send players, coaches, referees and staff for overseas attachments.
“Coming from a club which places great emphasis on youth development, I am impressed with the Football Association of Singapore’s philosophy in terms of developing young players. They have a well-defined structure and programmes which cater to players between the age of six and 18,” said Schaeffer.
“With adequate support, I am certain you will see a conveyor belt of talent coming through the system regularly and that means your national team will be a force to be reckoned with,” he added.
The teenager had spent 45 days on training stints last year at top European sides Ajax Amsterdam, Atletico Madrid and Newcastle United, as well as Japan’s Albirex Niigata. A graduate of the Singapore Sports School, Adam will join Metz’s Under-19 squad and continue his studies there.
Based in eastern France, Metz, which count Bayern Munich star Franck Ribery and former French internationals Sylvain Wiltord and Patrick Battiston among their alumni, are keen to further their partnership with the FAS, and hope Adam is the first of many to arrive.
“We also hope to expand our collaboration to include other areas such as staff exchange programmes and the organisation of football clinics in Singapore,” said Schaeffer. “FC Metz will also consider bringing our senior technical staff to Singapore to share our youth development model with FAS officials and coaches.”
Last night, about 50 family members, friends, supporters and FAS officials were at Changi Airport to give Adam a rousing farewell before he departed for Paris.
“I’m feeling quite nervous yet excited because not every teenager gets the chance to do this and I’m probably the first. I hope my team-mates and the other youth players will see this as a chance to pursue their dreams of playing in Europe,” he said.
“There is a little pressure because almost everyone knows about this and expects me to do well. Hopefully, I can do well and bring Singapore football to a new level. After two years, I hope to play for the national team and make the first team at Metz or other clubs out there.”
His father, Swandi Kitto, and mother, Hamidah Dasuki, — they have four children aged 17 to 31— will join their youngest son in Metz soon.
“I’m very proud of him, and hopefully he can progress further. I’m confident he’s in safe hands at Metz,” said a beaming Swandi, a former Singapore international. “He has shown promise since he was very young, even before Primary 1. Maybe it’s because of my genes. I really hope he can succeed over there.”
COMMENT - my reading of this is Metz have not signed a footballer but have taken on a paying lodger. Or am I too cynical?

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