Dollah Kassim Award: Teen from Greece seeks a Singapore tale
Vasileios Chua proud to represent the Republic after spending five years here
Vasileios Chua, a National Football Academy (NFA) Under-15 striker, was only two years old when Greece forward Angelos Charisteas sent an entire nation into a frenzy by scoring the winner against Portugal in the 2004 European Championship final.
The historic triumph had lasting effects in the Mediterranean nation though, long enough for Vasileios to feel it after he started playing football as a five-year-old.
Now 15, Vasileios told The New Paper: "I was two when Greece won the Euros so I don't really remember much.
"But as I grew up, I became more aware of the significance of the win after watching the tournament highlights and Greece's road to the final.
"I know that this win meant a great deal to the Greeks, especially since life in Greece is pretty tough for the people during that time until now.
"The win really united the people and brought joy to all the Greeks in the world."
Born to a Singaporean father and a Greek mother, Vasileios grew up in Kastoria, northwestern Greece, and moved to Singapore when he was 10.
"It was a shock to study in Singapore," he said. "The education system was so much different from what I was used to back in Greece, and it took me a while to adapt to the pace.
"In Greece, I was always the top student. But here in Singapore, I was at the bottom.
"I remembered pleading for a chance with my primary school principal after failing the entrance exams. I studied really hard and, at my mid-year exams, I passed all my subjects."
Sacrifices have to be made... I learnt to balance my studies and football.NFA U-15’s Vasileios Chua
Vasileios' father Dimitrios Chua, a lecturer, told The New Paper: "From a young age, he has shown that he has the drive when he sets his mind on something.
"I was very proud when he scored three As for his Primary School Leaving Examinations. His hard work paid off."
Now a Secondary 3 student at Tanjong Katong Secondary School, Vasileios has stayed disciplined so that he can juggle his studies with training, which takes place five times a week.
He said: "I made sure that I used the time after school and before training to do some homework, and then stayed up a little after training to finish it."
Standing at 1.80m and weighing 66kg, Vasileios first started as a goalkeeper, but became a forward three years ago.
"People tend to overlook my ability when I am on my feet because of my height. But I believe that a striker needs to be technically sound because I cannot rely just on my height," he said.
On his first nomination for The New Paper Dollah Kassim Award, he said: "I appreciate the nomination. It's a great honour to represent the national team.
"I take great pride in that."
- Name: Vasileios Chua
- Team: NFA U-15
- Position: Striker
- Date of birth: April 15, 2002
- Height: 1.80m
- Weight: 66kg
- Favourite team: Manchester United
- Favourite player: Cristiano Ronaldo