National U-18 midfielder Joshua Pereira wins Dollah Kassim Award
National Under-18 midfielder Joshua Bernard Pereira beat five other nominees to win this year's The New Paper Dollah Kassim Award.
He was presented the trophy this morning at Jurongville Secondary School, where the National Football Academy (NFA) graduation ceremony was also held.
With the win, the lanky youngster also snagged the the Singapore Pools Passport to Excellence, which funds a training stint at a reputable club overseas.
The other nominees were strikers Glenn Kweh and Benjamin Davis (both 15), midfielder Elliot Ng and playmaker Saifullah Akbar (both 16), midfielder Justin Hui (17).
Joshua, who stands at 1.80m, said: "I didn't expect it all at because the other nominees are all really good players.
"I want to thank all the coaches, my Under-18 teammates, my family, friends and everyone who has helped guide me through my football journey."
The New Paper editor Dominic Nathan said: "Joshua embodies what the Dollah Kassim Award is all about.
"He has suffered many setbacks in his young career, but refused to let them get him down.
"If he continues to show the same qualities that has helped him get to where he is today, I'm sure he will go far."
Added Football Association of Singapore (FAS) president Zainudin Nordin: "We are very proud of all six nominees.
"It's never easy to select just one winner, but the panel of judges have done their work and I wish to congratulate Joshua on his win.
"My advice to him is to persevere, keep working hard and try to go as far as possible in his football career."
The Dollah Kassim Award was just reward for Joshua's stellar year.
He was one of the national Under-18 team’s stand-out performers during the qualification tournament in October for next year’s AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Under-19 Championship.
While the Cubs finished third in their group in Bangkok last month, behind South Korea and Thailand, and failed to qualify for the finals in Bahrain, Joshua caught the eye of key personnel at the FAS, including technical director Michel Sablon and national youth teams head coach Richard Tardy.
The first-year hospitality and tourism management student at Temasek Polytechnic was rewarded for his performances in Thailand with an invitation to train with the Courts Young Lions, the Under-23 developmental team that play in the professional S.League.
What makes the youngster’s rise even more remarkable is that he has had to bounce back from two leg breaks.
He fractured his right fibula when he was 12 and then suffered a broken ankle four years later, in 2013.
The Dollah Kassim Award — initiated by The New Paper in partnership with Singapore Pools and the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) in 2010 — recognises both footballing excellence and character, both of which the late Dollah had in abundance.
Nicknamed “The Gelek King”, Dollah was well loved in the local football fraternity, and was widely regarded as one of Singapore’s most skilful players.
He died at the age of 61 in 2010.
Previous winners of the award Ammirul Emmran Mazlan (2010) and Adam Swandi (2011) each spent two weeks with English Premier League side Newcastle United, while the winners in the last three years — R Aaravin (2012), Hazim Faiz Hassan (2013) and Muhelmy Suhaimi (2014) — polished their skills at French outfit FC Metz.