IT WILL be a busy month for Brunei's youth footballers come September with the announcement of the Sultanate's U-18 and U-15 squads participating in the Asian Schools Football Tournament, scheduled to be held in Ubon, Thailand from September 2-12.
The two divisions that will feature in said tournament are the 39th edition of the U-18 Asian Schools Football Tournament and the 6th edition for the U-15 respectively.
Brunei was supposed to host this year's edition of the Asian Schools Football Tournament but Thailand was named as a replacement due to International Federation of Association Football's (Fifa) ban on the Sultanate which was lifted only on May 30.
The U-18 team will feature many familiar faces for local football fans, with a majority of the players having represented Brunei in last year's Asian Schools Under-18 Football Championship in South Korea.
Unfortunately the team was not allowed to compete in said tournament due to Fifa's suspension.
The U-19 national team is also training hard in preparation for next month's Asean Football Federation (AFF) Under-19 Championship to be held in Myanmar.
Brunei's youth squads have been undergoing intensive training since the start of the year and the fasting month of Ramadhan is of no exception.
One such example of the teams' dedication is the U-18 squad training every evening at 9.15pm at the Sports School football pitch and the PTE Katok football pitch.
Brunei's participation in these tournaments will definitely be beneficial to the country's youth footballers, building them up for larger tournaments to come but earlier signs didn't look promising says national football coach Kwon Oh-son.
The lack of time to get the team ready is also against Brunei's sides, as pointed out by U-19 team coach Hj Zainuddin Hj Kassim.
"Of course we don't have enough time to train," said the coach.
"We didn't even have time to conduct trials in every district. The players here are mostly from Brunei-Muara and we only had three trials, two at the Balapan Track & Field, Hassanal Bolkiah National Sports Complex in Berakas and one at Berakas Secondary School," he said.
"Nevertheless, I think this is the country's best group of Under-19 players.
"For me the goal in Myanmar is to expose these players and give them a chance to gain experience at this level," he added.
The Bruneian team is pooled in Group B, together with hosts Myanmar, Indonesia, Laos and Vietnam.
The national team's last competition was the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup qualifiers held in Sri Lanka in May 2009, where they lost all three of their group stage games.The Brunei Times