Nasrul's eager to toughen up
Our second nominee wants to add steel to his game to become the complete midfield package
The first time he watched the national team "live", Nasrul Taib witnessed the Lions thumped 7-3 by Uzbekistan, and received a scolding from his parents before his night at the old National Stadium was done.
His dreams of donning the Singapore shirt still burn strong.
Indeed, he learnt a little something of what it takes to get there, from that night in 2008.
"I was shocked that the Singapore fans started to jeer our own team, and by the language that they used," said Nasrul.
"But I was excited, and I didn't really know everything that they were saying, so I just followed. Evidently, I cursed and my parents scolded me for that."
Part of the National Football Academy Under-17 side, the affable midfielder is one of six nominees for The New Paper Dollah Kassim Award.
His coaches pointed out his "consistency, vision, strength and determination" as his main assets.
Naming Liverpool's Steven Gerard and the slick-passing Spaniard Xavi as his idols, it is no surprise that the 17-year-old has his eye on combining elegance and grit in a single midfield package.
And he knows just what he needs to do that.
"I do pass the ball well," he said.
"But I do get intimidated easily when I see tough opponents. I need to be more confident, and be more of a leader than a follower."
Indeed, the local players Nasrul looks up to are trailblazers in their own right - Shahdan Sulaiman and 18-year-old Ammirul Emmran Mazlan, who won the first Dollah Kassim Award in 2010.
"Shahdan is so composed on the ball in all the games I watched him play for the LionsXII (in 2012), and I've kind of idolised Ammirul since I watched him play for Singapore at the (2010) Youth Olympic Games," said Nasrul.
"My dream is to play in the national team alongside Ammirul in midfield, and I know that to get there I just have to keep working hard and listen to my coaches."
Nasrul listens intently to every piece of advice he receives, whether it comes from his coaches at the Singapore Sports School or NFA coach Robin Chitrakar.
He hopes to join S.League side Courts Young Lions by 2016, when he will turn 19.
His mantra to get there is a simple one, characteristic of the "Yolo" (abbreviation for you only live once) generation.
"Go je (local Malay slang for 'just do it')," he said.
"I know I have to work hard, and importantly, listen to my coaches."
- Name: Nasrul Taib
- Date of Birth: Oct 10, 1997
- Age: 17
- Team: NFA U-17
- Height: 1.75m
- Weight: 62kg
- Position: Central midfielder
- Favourite team: Liverpool
- Favourite player: Steven Gerrard
DID YOU KNOW?
Nasrul has his eye on criminal investigation, but using scientific principles, like the flashy folks on CSI. He will enrol in Republic Polytechnic's biomedical course next April.
- The Dollah Kassim Award winner will receive the Singapore Pools' Passport to Excellence prize, which funds the cost of sending the recipient for an overseas training stint. Singapore Pools launched the incentive in 2010 to nurture young sports talent, in line with its commitment as a leading partner in the sports community.