Muhammad Zaki Zulkarnain may not have started his secondary-school hockey journey the way he wanted to, but he certainly is happy with how he has finished it.
The Secondary 5 student had joined Northland Secondary School for its reputation as a hockey powerhouse but found his team eliminated in the second round every year.
Not this year, however. The B boys finished third in the Schools National championship, ensuring that Zaki ended his time in Northland's hockey team with a medal.
The 17 year old, who received the Best Schoolboy award for hockey at the 48th Singapore Schools Sports Council (SSSC) Colours Awards yesterday, said: "Northland used to be one of the best hockey teams in Singapore.
"But our results began to drop over the years, so I told my teammates that maybe we can change that this year and it would be a valuable memory if we won the competition.
"It was tough luck that we didn't, but it really gave me the motivation to pursue my passion for hockey."
After the B Division tournament ended in March, Zaki was invited by national men's hockey coach Rajan Krishnan to train with the national team.
The centre midfielder was also part of the Singapore team that won the Hockey Series Open in July, which qualified them for next year's Hockey Series Finals.
Zaki was one of the 51 students from 22 schools who received the Best Schoolboy and Best Schoolgirl awards at CHIJ St Theresa's Convent yesterday, when national tennis player Sarah Pang was the guest of honour.
The awards are presented to the overall best male and female athlete from each of the 28 sports, with some sports - such as netball and sepak takraw - offered to only one gender.
More than 8,700 students from secondary schools, junior colleges and centralised institutes received the SSSC Colours Awards this year in recognition of their sporting achievements and display of good sporting character.
Yesterday also marked the official closing of the 2018 National School Games, which saw about 60,000 students compete in 28 sports from January to August.