TNP Dollah Kassim Award: Desire to excel helps Farhan Zulkifli go far
We start our series on TNP Dollah Kassim Award nominees with Farhan Zulkifli
"Never be satisfied" is the mantra of Hougang United's teenage midfielder Farhan Zulkifli and it has certainly served him well.
In his unrelenting quest for excellence, the fleet-footed winger, who turns 17 on Sunday, has found himself fast-tracked from the Hougang United Under-18s to their senior team and then the Lions - in just four months.
Not surprisingly, Farhan also earned himself a nomination for The New Paper Dollah Kassim Award, an annual accolade that recognises the most deserving local youth footballer.
Thanks to award sponsor Singapore Pools, the winner will be going on an overseas training stint with a reputable academy.
Hougang U-18 coach Han Yiguang, who nominated Farhan for the award, said that the player's desire to improve is second to none.
He said: "Ability-wise, he is the best player in the team. He also has the discipline and a great attitude.
"He comes to training on time, gives his best and always encourages and pushes his teammates on."
Han, 34, was struck by how Farhan issued a rallying call to his teammates after they defeated Home United's U-18 team 1-0 in their opener of the Centre of Excellence (COE) league in April.
"After the first game, Farhan gathered the team for a debrief and told the boys to continue working hard," he said.
"He told them to not be satisfied and would keep saying that to them."
It is this exemplary attitude that has seen the first-year electrical engineering student at Institute of Technical Education (ITE) College West forge a breakthrough season.
He scored on his Singapore Premier League debut against Home United in June, becoming the league's second-youngest scorer at 16 years and 231 days.
Although he has since been overtaken by a younger scorer, the strike against Home stayed in his memory for a long time.
After stealing the ball from his opponents, Farhan dribbled past the defence before sending a curler into the top-right corner just 12 minutes into the game, setting up a 2-0 win.
"I felt like crying because I didn't believe it. It was surreal.
"Even after I went home and for days after, I couldn't sleep because I kept thinking about it," he said, adding that he looks back on it as motivation to work harder.
Farhan acknowledged that he is still young and has a lot to work on, as he wants to make his parents proud. Having earned his first national call-up, his next target is to make his Lions debut.
He said: "My mum and dad are always supporting me and I always dream of making them proud. They are my biggest motivation to push through and keep going."
Name: Farhan Zulkifli
Team: Hougang United
D.O.B: Nov 10, 2002
Favourite team: Man United
Favourite player: Eden Hazard