Iman Hakim Ibrahim, 17, named TNP Dollah Kassim Award 2019 winner
Youth footballer Iman Hakim Ibrahim was named the winner of this year’s The New Paper Dollah Kassim Award at a ceremony at the Football Association of Singapore’s Jalan Besar headquarters on Friday.
The national Under-18 midfielder, who plays for Singapore Sports School (SSP), pipped five other nominees – SSP’s Ethan Henry Pinto, Amir Syafiz Rashid, Hougang United’s Farhan Zulkifli, Geylang International’s Azri Suhaili Azar and Jurongville Secondary School’s Arsyad Basiron – to bag the award, which is into its 10th year.
Apart from a trophy, the 17-year-old has also earned himself an overseas training stint with a reputable academy, courtesy of Singapore Pools.
Winners from previous years had the chance to train with England's Newcastle United, French clubs FC Metz, St Etienne and Belgium’s KRC Genk.
Iman, who was also nominated for the award last year, put in extra hours in the gym this year to make himself stronger, noted SSP coach Shahrin Shari.
The 1.66m youngster, who used to weigh a scrawny 48kg, beefed up his physique to 58kg.
Said Shahrin: “I’m pleased to see him come so far and it’s really a well-deserved win for Iman because he earned it himself with all his hard work, sacrifice and discipline.
“The award in itself is also very fitting for Iman because his technical abilities and character reflect that of the late Dollah Kassim, so I hope he embraces what’s ahead of him and continues to grow as an individual and as a player.”
Iman was on the verge of tears when he heard his name being announced as the winner.
Still in disbelief after receiving the award from Chin Sau Ho, Singapore Pools' director of community partnerships and communications, Iman said: “I’m still shaking, I really didn’t expect to win this. To be able to stand alongside my talented teammates and other young outstanding players, that itself was an honour.
“I’m very happy and thankful to have won this award, and I really owe it to my parents, coaches and teammates for always pushing me to come this far.”
FAS president Lim Kia Tong, who gave out certificates to all six nominees, said he hopes that they will be able to emulate former international Dollah, whom this award was named after.
Known affectionately as the “Gelek King” for his dribbling ability, Dollah was adored by many and regarded as one of the nation’s best footballers.
Following his passing at the age of 61 in 2010, TNP initiated the award in partnership with FAS, to honour him.
FAS technical director Joseph Palatsides, who headed the selection panel, said the award is a great recognition of not only the player’s footballing ability, but also an acknowledgement of his exemplary conduct.
Said Palatsides: “All nominations and finalists would be worthy winners as they all had impressive seasons, but this year’s winner Iman has, in the view of the judging panel, been the best footballer carrying all the values.
“He had very good performances in the COE league with the Sports School and he also had a good tournament in the AFF U-18 Championship in Chonburi. Thus, he’s a worthy winner of this year’s award and he can look forward to a training stint in Europe.
“This training opportunity is another way the FAS, through the TNP Dollah Kassim Award, helps in the development of our young footballers, as he can measure himself against quality footballers in Europe, and understand what is required to make the next step.”
Singapore Pools' director of community partnerships and communications Chin Sau Ho said: "Singapore Pools hopes that Iman's overseas training stint would enhance his game play bringing Singapore’s football to greater heights; following the spirit of the Dollah Kassim Award."