TNP Dollah Kassim Award nominee Ethan shows maturity beyond his years
His SSP coach Isa Halim says he's in a similar mould to Lions midfielder Shahdan Sulaiman
In January, he did not make the cut for the Singapore Under-15 side. But, within three months, Ethan Henry Pinto earned a call-up and has since become a key player for the national age-group team.
It is a testament to the midfielder's resolve - one of many attributes that has impressed Isa Halim, his coach at the Singapore Sports School (SSP).
Ethan has since represented Singapore in various tournaments, including the AFF U-15 Championship and the AFC U-16 Championship qualifiers.
"He was not first choice for the national U-15, but worked very hard to get himself into the team," Isa told The New Paper.
"Now, he is one of the key players for them.
"It is down to his great determination, a very good characteristic to have in a player. He just does not give up and is always working hard."
Ethan has made such vast improvements that he not only received a Best Performer award this year, but was also nominated by Isa for The New Paper Dollah Kassim Award.
The award, in its 10th year, recognises the best local players aged 18 and below who have excelled on the pitch and shown exemplary values off it.
The winner will get an overseas training stint with a reputable academy, courtesy of Singapore Pools.
"The Best Performer award is given by SSP to a student-athlete for shining both on and off the pitch. It is credit to Ethan for coming out tops across all four age-groups," said the 33-year-old Isa.
"Ethan is indispensable to both the U-15 and Singapore Sports School team. He has shown a lot of improvement, not only in his football ability but also in his attitude."
The former Singapore international also said that the 15-year-old shows maturity that belies his age and added that Ethan is in a similar mould to Tampines Rovers and Lions midfielder Shahdan Sulaiman.
"As young as he is now, he shows a lot of maturity. You can see it in his play and also on how he approaches things off the pitch.
"He is a hardworking player who quietly gets the job done. Whatever is asked of him, he carries it out with no complaints.
"Ethan's style resembles that of Shahdan, a hardworking player with good vision and game awareness.
"He has sound technique and is a cultured player, very composed and is always looking for the killer pass.
"His calm demeanour and never-give-up attitude are vital ingredients for his role."
The soft-spoken Ethan prefers to do most of his talking on the pitch.
When asked what inspired him to excel in the sport, he spoke of how his achievements have made his family proud, adding that he is focused on working very hard to continue to make progress.
On the challenges he had faced in attaining his goals, he alluded to putting in hard work to overcome tough situations, be it on the pitch or in the classroom.
As for his short-term goal, Ethan's answer was: "Just work hard."
The boy of few words was a little more forthcoming when he spoke of his nomination for The New Paper Dollah Kassim Award.
"Previously, when I heard about my seniors winning the award and it coming out in the newspapers, I realised it was a big thing," Ethan said.
"I am just very happy and honoured to be nominated, and I want to thank my family for their support."
Name: Ethan Henry Pinto
Team: Singapore Sports School
Position: Central midfielder
Date of birth: Oct 14, 2004
Favourite team: Liverpool
Favourite player: Frenkie de Jong