TNP Dollah Kassim Award nominee Andrew learns to lead by example
The New Paper continues our series on TNP Dollah Kassim Award nominees with Andrew Aw Yong Rei
Captaincy is more than just a title to teenage footballer Andrew Aw Yong Rei.
Donning the armband for the Football Association of Singapore's Football Academy (FFA) Under-15 team and Singapore Sports School this year has been a journey full of lessons on leadership for the 15-year-old.
It was one that began with shouldering the responsibility of setting a good example for his teammates.
That meant being disciplined both on and off the pitch, which entailed not getting into arguments with opponents and displaying sportsmanship during games.
Cultivating a sense of discipline outside the sport was also a priority for Andrew.
After witnessing the players at J2 League club Omiya Ardija cleaning up their dressing room while on a training stint there, he implemented the regimen when he returned to Singapore.
The defender led his school team to the B Division football title in April, but admitted that fulfilling the duty of a captain was not easy.
He said: "The step up definitely was not easy.
He’s very reliable and is someone I can trust to make things happen in games.FFA U-15 coach Syed Azmir
"I had to gain the respect of my teammates, and that took a bit of time.
"But it showed me about leadership and how to be a good leader."
For FFA U-15 coach Syed Azmir Syed Azman, Andrew's dedication and capability to influence his team made him a clear choice to be the team's captain.
He said: "He's very reliable and is someone I can trust to make things happen in games and rally the troops off the field as well.
"His ability on the field speaks for itself and he gets the respect of his fellow teammates just by performing the way he does and his teammates respect him.
"He's a great example that I want the rest of the players to follow."
Andrew may be the cornerstone of his teams' defences now, but he started his football journey as a midfielder.
Watching former Manchester United defender Nemanja Vidic's tenacious displays led to a change of heart and he has never looked back.
Like many of his peers, he has ambitions to play overseas, but he is quite certain that he wants to play in Japan after training with Omiya last December.
While the trip was short, it was a fruitful learning experience for the centre-back who is always striving to be better.
Winning The New Paper Dollah Kassim Award would give him the chance to go for another overseas training stint with a reputable academy, courtesy of Singapore Pools.
Andrew's drive to reach greater heights is one that has earned the praise of Syed Azmir.
Lauding the teenager's attitude, the 34-year-old said: "He wants to be perfect at every single thing. It's hard to get players who have that mentality at 15.
"He gives his all on the field.
"In training sessions, he's always running that extra mile because he knows that whatever he's doing will help him on the pitch."
The New Paper Dollah Kassim Award is another encouragement for the ambitious youngster.
On his nomination, Andrew said: "I'm quite thankful.
"It's a blessing and motivation for me to work harder to further improve my game."
Name: Andrew Aw Yong Rei
Team: FFA Under-15
Date of birth: March 29, 2003
Favourite Team: Manchester United
Favourite Player: Nemanja Vidic