Footballer Adam Swandi gets good news about NS deferment
Teenager mulling over whether to extend Metz stint or return home for the SEA Games
Teenage national footballer Adam Swandi got some unexpected good news at the sidelines of the Singapore Olympic Foundation-Peter Lim Scholarship Award ceremony at the ITE College Central yesterday morning.
"I talked to (Minister for Culture, Community and Youth) Mr Lawrence Wong earlier," he told The New Paper excitedly.
"He told me he can help me defer my NS (National Service) until after next year's SEA Games."
The South-east Asia (SEA) Games on home soil next June has been on Adam's mind a lot recently.
It is a key reason the 18-year-old is mulling over not signing a contract extension with French top-tier club FC Metz, and serving his NS instead.
If he picks the latter, he will likely play for Courts Young Lions in the S.League, as the Football Association of Singapore revealed to TNP on Tuesday.
The Singapore Sports School alumni must make a decision on whether to enlist or join Metz for another year by Aug 31.
And now that Mr Wong has offered a helping hand, Adam says he is leaning towards staying in Singapore.
"The SEA Games is such a big competition for us, and I really want to be a part of it," he said.
"If I go back to Metz, they won't release me to play, like (what happened during) last year's SEA Games (in Myanmar). I'll make my decision after the Austria trip with the national team."
Adam has been back in Singapore for almost two weeks, but will bid goodbye to his family for nearly three weeks as he will be part of the joint training tour to Austria from tomorrow to July 23.
Making the trip to Europe will be the national squad and the Under-23 team.
National coach Bernd Stange, who handed Adam his senior international debut against Myanmar last June, has been vocal in his desire to bring Adam back, citing the player's lack of competitive game time with Metz's U-21 team.
The German told TNP in March: "He is still physically too weak to make his mark in France... Adam's not quite happy because the boys there - from Algeria and Morocco - are too strong for him, and he can't play in games."
But Adam insisted he could compete with his peers in France, and said he only found out later that his exclusion from competitive matches was due to administrative reasons.
"I assumed once I turned 18 (in January) I would be eligible to play for their U-21 team, but it only marked the point the club could apply a for licence, something like a work permit, for me," he said.
"The process took five or six months, so I couldn't play in any league games and nobody told me it was because I didn't have the licence, so I was quite down.
"By the time it came through, it was late May and I could only play one competitive match.
"I know I can handle the competition from the other players at the club... I get to play in friendlies - sometimes I start, sometimes I come off the bench. And the club regularly play me as a No. 10 or winger."
At yesterday's ceremony, Adam was named as an SOF-Peter Lim Scholarship recipient for a third year, this time as part of 25 who received high performance (U-18) scholarships.
Now a confident public speaker, he was comfortable fielding questions on stage facing an auditorium full of people, a far cry from the stuttering 15-year-old who gave stuttered, almost monosyllabic answers post-match at the Lion City Cup three years ago.
His mother, Hamidah Dasuki, however, reveals he is still very much her little boy.
She told TNP how Adam couldn't stop sobbing when she and two of his three siblings paid him a surprise visit in Metz last month, as part of an upcoming television programme.
"He has a very strong bond with his family," she said.
"So when we surprised him, he kept crying and crying!"
A sheepish Adam said: "I looked at an album of photos my family made me, and cried. Then I saw a video they made me, and I cried again.
"Then my mother stepped through the room door and I cried some more. I couldn't believe she was in front of me.
"I kept crying every time I got another surprise, to the point I told the host (of the programme) why didn't you introduce all of them at the same time!"
“I talked to (Minister for Culture, Community and Youth) Mr Lawrence Wong earlier. He told me he can help me defer my NS (National Service) until after next year’s SEA Games.
- Adam Swandi