TNP Dollah Kassim Award celebrates 10th anniversary
Six nominees picked for annual accolade, with the winner going for an overseas training stint
The New Paper Dollah Kassim Award, an annual accolade which recognises Singapore football talents aged 18 and below, celebrates its 10th year this year, making it a decade in support of youth football.
Six nominees - three each from Under-18 and Under-15 categories - have been picked by a selection panel from the Football Association of Singapore (FAS), after having impressed beyond this year's Centre of Excellence (COE) leagues.
The winner will be announced at a ceremony at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Nov 15, making him the 10th player to have his name engraved on the coveted TNP Dollah Kassim Award trophy.
Nicknamed the "Gelek King", Dollah was widely regarded as one of Singapore's most skilful players. He represented the country with distinction in the 1970s.
Shortly after his passing in 2010 at the age of 61, TNP initiated the award in partnership with the FAS, in Dollah's memory.
Thanks to Singapore Pools, the previous winners went on overseas training stints with renowned clubs such as England's Newcastle United, French sides FC Metz and St Etienne and Belgium's KRC Genk.
It will be no different for this year's winner.
Among the U-18 nominees, Iman Hakim Ibrahim - who was also in the running for last year's award - had a standout season with the Singapore Sports School (SSP) and the Singapore U-18s, who are currently in Myanmar for the AFC U-19 Championship qualifiers.
The 17-year-old midfielder earned a second nomination not only because of his performances, but also his sportsmanship, fair play and attitude towards teammates, opponents, coaches and officials, said SSP U-18 coach Shahrin Shari.
LIFE IN THE FAST LANE
The other two U-18 nominees, Hougang United winger Farhan Zulkifli and Geylang International midfielder Azri Suhaili Azar, have already made headlines this year.
Despite being registered with their clubs' youth teams at the start of the year, the pair did so well that they were fast-tracked to their senior teams.
They even made their Singapore Premier League debuts just a few months before turning 17, making them the fourth and fifth youngest to make their bow in the professional competition's 24-year history.
Farhan, who turns 17 on Sunday, even earned his first senior national call-up last month.
The three U-15 nominees played for the Singapore U-16s after making their mark with their clubs in the COE league.
SSP duo Amir Syafiz Rashid and Ethan Henry Pinto, both 15, were nominated because of their exemplary conduct, attitude and performance, said their coach Isa Halim.
Likewise, Jurongville Secondary School midfielder Arsyad Basiron, 15, caught the eye with his knack of scoring goals, as well as his discipline, said his coach Azman Mohd.
FAS technical director Joseph Palatsides, who heads the selection panel, is pleased with this year's crop of nominees.
He said: "It's important that the award recognises not only the best-performing player through the COE leagues, but also one who carries values on and off the field, which we see as important traits in the footballer we want to develop."
Reaffirming the paper's support for youth football, TNP editor Lim Han Ming said: "The New Paper is committed to our partnership with the FAS to unearth the next generation of talented footballers.
"This year, we have another good crop of young players progressing through the pipeline and I hope our readers will enjoy reading about them over the next two weeks."
READ ABOUT THE NOMINEES IN THE NEW PAPER FROM TOMORROW