Centre of Excellence product Suria Prakash is the odd one out in the Singapore U-23 team, but is determined to grab his chance during his first call-up to the national side.
Warriors FC winger Suria feels that his inclusion in the recently named Singapore U-23 National Team squad offers a glimpse of hope for players who are not from the National Football Academy (NFA).
The U-23 team which flew into their Austrian training camp on Tuesday is mostly made out of Courts Young Lions players as well as FC Metz's Adam Swandi, Balestier Khalsa's Sim Teck Yi and the NFA's Irfan and Ikhsan Fandi - all of whom are currently or were once involved with the NFA.
The U-23 team which flew into their Austrian training camp on Tuesday is mostly made out of Courts Young Lions players as well as FC Metz's Adam Swandi, and the NFA's Irfan and Ikhsan Fandi.
Suria and Sim Teck Yi however, are exceptions - they both ply their trade with S.League clubs, and had initially come through the COE system before joining the NFA in their formative years.
“I’m very happy to get a chance to show what I’m made off,” the delighted 21-year-old told FourFourTwo.
“I have to thank my coaches Alex [Weaver] (Warriors Head Coach) and Kevin [Wee] (Weaver’s assistant and Warriors Prime League coach).
"They gave me the chance to play against DPMM earlier in the season. It was very big, and everything has gone well since then.”
Suria has featured prominently in Weaver’s plans this year, and has made nine appearances alongside his more distinguished teammates.
While he has not yet opened accounts for the senior side, the fleet-footed winger has taken the Prime League by storm with 11 goals to his name this season.
Although the name might still be unfamiliar to many fans, the ITE student actually made his S.League debut in 2012 with Balestier Khalsa, after breaking through with their Centre of Excellence (COE) and Prime League teams.
He then followed Wee over to Choa Chu Kang Stadium at the start of the year, where his career has since blossomed.
Suria's impact has been noticed around the club, with Warriors midfielder Thomas Beattie taking to Twitter to express his surprise when the winger was not included in a previous Singapore U-23 squad.
“I don’t know if you can quantify potential, but Suria certainly is very good and has lots of it,” coach Weaver told FourFourTwo on Saturday.
“He has a lot to do and we have to consider the elements. He’s still very young, and of course things like his social life, as well as the environment at Warriors around him counts.
“But he’s had some fantastic work with Kevin, who deserves all the credit really.
“One thing Suria has done is that he has taken his chance and performed really really well this year, and he’s deserved it (the call-up).”
Weaver also believes Suria’s development shows that players who have come through at S.League clubs might not necessarily be inferior to those from the Football Association’s NFA system.
“Of course, you don’t know where the talents will be coming from. Development programs all over the world are about creating an environment for the youngsters to succeed in,” the former Stoke City Academy coach said.
“The message here is that young players need to keep their heads down and work very hard - that’s what Suria has done.
“But obviously he still has a long way to go before making the Senior National Team, but there’s no saying he can’t do it."
However the focus for Suria now is to cement his spot in the National U-23 team.
“I still have a very long way to go, I don’t think I’m there yet. I have to fight for my spot.”comments