St Etienne’s winning mindset wows Dollah Kassim Award winner Joshua
TNP-Dollah Kassim Award winner Joshua inspired by St Etienne's winning mindset
He arrived at French Ligue 1 side St Etienne only on Friday, and 24 hours later, Joshua Bernard Pereira was thrown into a 10-a-side match with members of the club's Under-19 squad.
The Garena Young Lions midfielder is on an eight-day training stint with the record 10-time Ligue 1 champions after clinching The New Paper-Dollah Kassim Award last November.
The stint was made possible under the Singapore Pools Passport to Excellence.
Speaking to TNP over the phone yesterday, Joshua revealed that the players he faced were well ahead of Singapore footballers physically.
"We are not far behind them technically. However, they are definitely far ahead of us physically," he said.
"They're really strong and bigger, size-wise. In terms of fitness, they have a lot of stamina."
Another standout attribute of the players, Joshua noted, was their competitive nature.
"They have the 'always want to win' mindset," he added.
"Even in a two-sided game in training, the players don't want to lose."
Joshua has to contend with more than just players who are a step-up in class. He also has to get used to the unfamiliar weather conditions.
The 18-year-old has had to endure 2 deg C conditions in the French city of Saint-Etienne, a five-hour drive from Paris.
A typical morning training session at the club starts at 9am, with breakfast served an hour earlier.
"They'll serve salad with a side dish, sometimes smoked salmon," he said. "The main dish would be pasta and meat or sometimes fish. They also serve yogurt and French loaves.
"Sometimes, there won't be morning training sessions, so we would go for a walk or just rest."
Lunch starts at noon and afternoon training is held three hours later. Players go for dinner at seven in the evening.
The Association Sportive Saint-Etienne boasts a main pitch that can sit 300 spectators, with on-site facilities like cryotherapy and a Turkish bath.
Joshua has also visited the club's 42,000-seater Stade Geoffroy-Guichard ground and the only shopping mall near the training centre.
The youngster revealed that he has not spoken to the club's coaches and players much because of the language barrier. But he is determined to get more tips from them.
"It was merely a two-sided game so there's not much that I could learn (last Saturday)," he said.
"I didn't understand what they were doing but, maybe after a few sessions, things will become clearer."
Joshua, who is in France with National Football Academy (NFA) U-15 player Mohamad Hamizan Mohamad Hisham and NFA U-14 assistant coach Shahrin Shari, will return to Singapore on Sunday.
Shahrin said: "During his first training, Joshua coped very well.
"He held his own against their U-19s, and even had an assist in the intra-squad game that ended 2-2."