TNP Dollah Kassim Award back again
Eight nominees shortlisted for accolade which embodifies late star's attributes
The New Paper Dollah Kassim Award is back for a ninth year.
The annual accolade - which is handed to the most worthy FAS Football Academy (FFA) player aged 18 and below - recognises footballing excellence and character, both of which the late Dollah had in abundance.
Nicknamed "The Gelek King", Dollah was well-loved in the local football fraternity and was widely regarded as one of Singapore's most skilful players who represented the country with distinction in the 1970s.
He died at the age of 61 in 2010. Shortly after his passing, TNP initiated the award in partnership with FAS, in his memory.
This year, eight promising youngsters from the FFA have been shortlisted for the prestigious accolade.
Besides receiving a trophy, the winner will also get an overseas training stint with a reputable academy, courtesy of Singapore Pools.
Previous award winners had stints with Newcastle United in England, and French sides FC Metz and St Etienne.
There's a good mix among this year's batch.
The two nominees from FFA Under-18 - midfielder Rezza Rezky Ramadhani and defender Nur Adam Abdullah - were also in the running for the award in 2017 and 2016 respectively.
Having missed out on the award previously only made them work even harder to improve, noted their coach Takuya Inoue.
From FFA U-17, defender Harhys Rizal Gareth Stewart and midfielder Abdul Rasaq Ishiekwene Akeem earned the nod of their coach Fadzuhasny Juraimi, following their good performances throughout the season.
So too, the FFA U-16 duo of defender Ryaan Sanizal and midfielder Iman Hakim Ibrahim, who have impressed their coach Ryo Shigaki.
They have shown so much potential and they are already training with the U-17s.
From FFA U-15, coach Syed Azmir Syed Azman picked defender Andrew Aw Yong Rei and midfielder Ong Yu En following their standout seasons.
Andrew complemented his footballing abilities with outstanding leadership qualities, while the 1.62m Yu En learnt to overcome his physical disadvantage on the pitch.
A panel of judges from the FAS and TNP will assess the nominees and the winner will be announced at a ceremony on Nov 23.
Said FAS technical director Michel Sablon: "We can see more and more talented players (vying for the award).
"Before there were usually one or two standout players, but now it's not easy to choose the winner because there has been a dramatic increase in quality in the 14-16 age group."
Said TNP editor Eugene Wee: "Besides football abilities, we also look for other attributes that embodify the late Dollah, such as a fantastic attitude and an indomitable spirit.
"The nominees have all impressed their respective coaches with their talent and application, and I am sure all would make worthy winners.
"It's great to see the mix of talent progressing through the youth pipeline and I hope our readers will enjoy reading about them over the next two weeks."
The eight nominees will be featured in The New Paper from tomorrow.