SINGAPORE - The boy between the sticks turned unexpectedly into goalscorer and hero at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Thursday (Aug 25), as Victoria School (VS) defeated Tanjong Katong Secondary School (TKSS) 2-1 to lift their first East Zone C Division football trophy since 2015.
In rarely witnessed scenes, VS goalkeeper and captain Kaden Foo was sent upfront as a forward in the 47th minute when his team was trailing 1-0, and the 14-year-old delivered the equaliser in front of a stunned crowd at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
Kaden converted a free kick from 40 metres out to the delight of his teammates, who sprinted towards him as he ran around the field celebrating.
And to erase any doubts of the first goal being a fluke, Kaden - now back in goal - delivered another sublime free kick in extra time, lobbing the ball from 45 metres to beat his TKSS counterpart to complete the comeback for his side.
Kaden admitted that he was surprised to find himself in the striker role, but he trusted his coach Lawrence Lee.
He said: "My coach wanted me to play as a striker because I can shoot long balls. I was pretty lost (because I'm not a striker) but I trust him and look up to him and it resulted in something good.
"I was just thinking about where to place the ball because it was raining today so the field was very wet and the bounce was pretty irregular. I tried to curl it onto the floor so it will bounce higher."
Lee chose the unusual tactic as he knew Kaden could score goals, having practised similar long free kicks during training.
He said: "He's an aggressive player and he can shoot so we wanted him to go up front and take shots."
The 62-year-old also praised his charges for their discipline and determination, even when they could not have in-person training during the pandemic.
He added: "They've worked hard, even when we do (training over) zoom they still gave their 100 per cent. They're very disciplined and take instructions very well.
"Today was 50-50, TKSS are a good side as well but I'm very excited for and proud of the boys."
While the game had a lively start, neither team had a clear chance at goal until the 26th minute when the ball slipped through Kaden's hands while he was trying to make a clearance. TKSS' Atheeq Mahboob then slotted home into an unmarked net to give his team the lead.
After the break, Victoria turned on the heat, playing more aggressively and creating more chances.
Twelve minutes from time - each half is 30 minutes - Kaden was swopped out of goal and went from villain to hero for VS.
The shiny trophy in his hands is a reward for a brilliant final outing in his first C Division inter-school tournament, and Kaden is already looking to improve his fitness ahead of next year's B Division competition, though he doubts he will switch to a forward role.
He said: "I learnt that resilience is key. Even though we were down in first half, we struck back and scored two goals and won the title.
"I'm very proud of the team, we did very well and only conceded one goal. In future seasons, we will come back even stronger."
Despite the loss, TKSS captain Danny Hilman, 14, was proud that his teammates always gave their 100 per cent in training and on the pitch.
The Secondary 2 student said: "We can rebound from this loss, we can look at the positives and reflect on the mistakes we made during this game and achieve better results next year."
Atheeq, 14, added: "Today didn't go the way we wanted it to but we are proud because we've achieved some good results through the hard work we've put in. This loss doesn't stop us and we'll come back stronger next year."