National Football Academy (NFA) Under-17 midfielder Joel Chew was named the 2017 winner of The New Paper Dollah Kassim Award at the NFA graduation ceremony at Meridian Secondary School yesterday morning.
The 17-year-old pipped seven other nominees - Marc Ryan Tan and Zikos Vasileios Chua (both from NFA U-15), Khairul Ikhwan Karim and Aizal Murhamdani Ahmad (both from NFA U-16), NFA U-17's Rezza Rezky Ramadhani and NFA U-18 duo Danial Syafiq Mustaffa and Nazhiim Harman - to bag the award, which is into its eighth year.
Joel received a trophy and secured a training stint at a European club. Previous award winners had attachments with Newcastle United in England and French sides FC Metz and St Etienne.
The 1.68m, 50kg youngster was surprised when his name was announced by Football Association of Singapore president Lim Kia Tong.
"I was really shocked when my name was announced - I didn't know what to do or how to react," Joel, who dedicated the win to his parents James Chew and Celine Tan, told TNP.
Regaining his composure, he added: "Winning this award gives me confidence to go for bigger goals and hopefully, play abroad one day."
The TNP Dollah Kassim Award - which honours the most deserving NFA player aged 18 and below - recognises both footballing excellence and character, qualities which the late Dollah, a former national player, 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.
He died at the age of 61 in 2010 and TNP initiated the award in partnership with the FAS the same year to honour him.