Newly converted centre back thriving in his role
He was converted into a centre back only this year.
But National Football Academy Under-16 defender Qayyum Raishyan did so well in his new position, he emerged as one of Singapore's best players at the AFF U-16 Championship in July.
His performances at the tournament in Cambodia were a big reason his coach, former national skipper Nazri Nasir, nominated him for this year's The New Paper Dollah Kassim Award.
The award recognises the best local players, aged 18 and below, who have excelled on the pitch and shown exemplary values off it.
Said Nazri: "From the first day I took the team (at the start of the year), Raishyan has grown and improved a lot.
"I converted him into a centre back because we needed someone in that position for the AFF U-16 Championship and he has enjoyed himself there.
"He has the right attributes for it. He's physically very strong, very hard in the tackle and he has done well.
"He has continued to improve every day and showed it in Cambodia, where he showed a lot of maturity."
Despite Singapore finishing fifth among six teams in Group A, Raishyan, who previously played at right back, emerged with credit.
The youngster said he relished the opportunity to mix it with the best youngsters in the region.
"It was a great experience for me," said the Seng Kang Secondary School student.
"The game against (eventual champions) Australia was the most memorable.
"Even though we lost 6-2, we showed great fighting spirit as a team and never gave up trying till the end.
"It was also a chance for me to test myself against bigger strikers and learn how to be stronger in my game."
Raishyan is no stranger to playing against bigger opponents.
He started playing football when he was eight, at the International Soccer Academy, where he played with, and against, children of expatriates.
His father, Rahmat Hashim, said that the coaches back then had already recognised Raishyan's reading of the game as one of his strong attributes.
Raishyan soon joined the NFA, where he has progressed through the age groups.
His parents have been hugely supportive of his football dreams.
Rahmat, who is assistant vice-president of property services at ComfortDelgro, bought a motorcycle for his own use so that his wife, Watie Bakir, can use the family car to ferry Raishyan to and from training sessions every day.
"When he finishes school, it's usually 3.30pm and he needs to get to the Singapore Sports School within an hour for training," explained Rahmat.
"So my wife takes the car, who juggles her time, so she can send him to training every day.
"Yes, we've made quite a few sacrifices. But it is worth it if we can help Raishyan achieve his ambitions."
Name: Qayyum Raishyan
Date of birth: Dec 5, 2000
Team: NFA U-16
Position: Centre back
Favourite team: Manchester United
Favourite player: Sergio Ramos