Rachael a reluctant star as VJC football women win again
VJC's Rachael lights up National A Division girls' football tourney
She was the toast of her school team, turning them into an unstoppable force in the battle for the National Schools' A Division girls' football championship.
Boosted by the goalscoring prowess of Rachael Han Fujisawa, Victoria Junior College (VJC) stormed to their third successive national title, and eighth in all, this year.
Rachael racked up 19 goals by the end of the campaign, three of them coming in the final when VJC hammered Meridian Junior College 4-0.
This wasn't the performance of a veteran, but a 16-year-old first-year student of the school, which made her goals tally and hat-trick in the final all the more remarkable.
VJC's teacher-in-charge of football, Tan Yew Hwee, agreed.
Speaking to The New Paper recently, Tan, 46, said: "VJC have always been great at football but, with Rachael in our side, our team's standard is definitely much higher.
"She has wonderful ability."
Rachael humbly attributed VJC's success to the team, coach and teachers.
"There are a lot of things that go on behind the scenes that you don't see," said the attacking midfielder.
"Some may shine on the field, but many other things impact the team that you don't see out there.
"The team come first.
"We ate together before every match and, throughout the season, our coach, Mr Lawrence Lee, always drove home the importance of unity."
Like Rachael, Kubo Yuri is of mixed Japanese/Singaporean parentage.
Kubo was captain of the VJC team, and already 18 and in her final year, the national title was the perfect ending for her.
Her celebrated teammate, Rachael, was happy the skipper enjoyed such a glorious send-off.
"She's the team's rock. Her leadership and care for every individual were things that kept us grounded. I respect and admire her a lot," said the young hotshot.
VJC have traditionally been strong in football and there was much pressure on the girls to defend their crown this year.
"There were many creative differences prior to the season, and conflicts arose out of it," admitted Rachael.
"But we had a team thrashing-out to throw all our feelings out there.
"VJC prioritise discipline and putting the team before yourself. I've never really experienced this before coming here.
"We're a close-knit family and it all worked out in the end."
As someone who loves sport and has been kicking a football since she was eight, Rachael, who has dual citizenship (Japan and Singapore), says she will be playing the game for a long time.
"The women's football scene isn't very big over here," she said.
"The national team have invited me to play for them. I definitely want to, but only when I have less things to worry about, like the A levels."