TNP Dollah Kassim Award nominee: Ong Yu En
The New Paper continues our series on TNP Dollah Kassim Award nominees with Ong Yu En
His slender build might make winning physical battles with opponents slightly tougher, but it will take a lot more to deter Ong Yu En, an Under-15 player with the Football Association of Singapore's Football Academy (FFA), from pursuing his favourite sport.
Instead, the 1.62m midfielder has worked on adapting his game to make up for what he lacks in physicality.
The 15-year-old said: "I don't really have the size, so I try to work on my mental part and get smarter on the field.
"I try to move faster and sharper off the ball so that the defender can't really follow me."
Yu En refuses to let his smaller stature define him on the pitch, which motivates him to work harder.
He cites his football icon as Manchester City's 1.73m midfielder David Silva, saying: "His movement is sharp and he's not the tallest and he plays in the same position as me and so I learn from him."
FFA U-15 coach Syed Azmir Syed Azman, who nominated him for The New Paper Dollah Kassim Award, said: "Being in the centre of the field is not easy, especially when you're small because you tend to get opponents on you every time you get the ball.
"But he has the ability to play smartly and knows where the spaces are and knows how to get into spots where people cannot see him. He has the ability to give good passes and that's why he shines on the field."
Azmir, 34, hailed Yu En as one for the future, but also lauded his irreproachable commitment and never-say-die attitude.
For Yu En, it’s 110 per cent effort in everything. FFA U-15 coach Syed Azmir Syed Azman
The Singapore Sports School student does not hold back during training and is always going for the win, even in friendly games.
Said Azmir: "Some players will give 70 per cent in training but, for Yu En, it's 110 per cent effort in everything.
"If his team lose, even if it's just a small-sided game, you can see the frustration in him.
"That just shows how committed he is both in training and in matches and I know for sure the moment he steps on the field, he's giving me his best."
Finding the balance between studies and football can sometimes get hard for the Secondary 3 student, especially during the examination period when he has to shift his attention away from the sport.
While it is not easy, he has few complaints about it as he knows that hard work is necessary for him to attain his dream of playing overseas.
He has already gotten a taste of overseas football, having travelled to Japan, Hong Kong and Indonesia for competitions and training stints.
He could add to that list as the winner of The New Paper Dollah Kassim award will get an overseas training stint with a reputable academy, courtesy of Singapore Pools.
Yu En recalls training with J2 League club Omiya Ardija last December, which offered him many valuable lessons.
He said: "The people there were very motivated. They motivate each other in training and gave their 100 per cent.
"I tried to follow them when they're playing. I try to observe the good things they do and try to learn from them."
Name: Ong Yu En
Team: FFA Under-15
Position: Central midfielder
Date of birth: 3 October 2003
Favourite team: Manchester City
Favourite player: David Silva