Exclusive: Van Huizen opens up about move to Young Lions

Christopher Van Huizen - Young Lions - S.League

Christopher Van Huizen made a club switch midway through the season and he tells FourFourTwo why he decided to leave title-chasing Tampines Rovers or whether he had any regrets joining them... 

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Coming off a memorable 2015, in which he impressed for the LionsXII in Malaysian competitions and won his first cap for Singapore against Asian giants Japan at the Sports Hub,  Christopher Van Huizen’s star was expected to shine even brighter in 2016 after he moved to title favourites Tampines Rovers.

But the 24-year-old has found minutes hard to come by in a star-studded squad and decided to move on to the Garena Young Lions during the mid-season in search of more playing time.

He opens up to FourFourtwo about his time at Tampines and working with his new teammates

What made you decide to make the move over to the Young Lions?

It was a decision I had to make because of the lack of playing time at Tampines. It was frustrating because my match fitness has gone down tremendously, and I fell out of contention for the national team. It really showed after I moved to the Young Lions.

Compared to my new teammates who have been playing regularly, I am physically much weaker. So I am hoping to get more playing time, and build up my fitness and hopefully put myself back in contention for national team selection.


The winger saw fairly limited playing time at Tampines

What did you take away from your time with Tampines Rovers and do you have any regrets about joining them in the first place?

You know, a lot of people have come to me and said things like “you wasted your time there”, but I don’t think so.

I had other offers, but Tampines was always my first choice after the LionsXII were disbanded, because they were the club who first took a chance on me.

I am a positive person. I believe you can learn something from every experience and there is definitely a lot to learn from being in the Tampines team.

For anyone, whether it is a Prime League player or a young player like me, you can pick up so much knowledge.

You have a coach like Sundram who is so experienced, who has won so much in his career, and you are training everyday with seasoned professionals, players who have been in the national team for so many years and you are training with someone like Jermaine Pennant, who has played at the highest level.

So I really must say no regrets. No hard feelings.  I am only 24. There are so many years ahead of me. This is just the start of my playing journey.


Van Huizen's display for the LionsXII last year helped him earn a Singapore call-up

What was it like being on the same team as Jermaine Pennant?

I picked up a lot of knowledge. You know, he’s very intelligent with the ball. He knows when to dribble and when to send the ball in. These are the little things I learnt from playing with him in training.

What’s it like joining the Garena Young Lions?

It’s been great so far. I know all the boys from playing together with them in the under-21 team in the Vietnam newspaper tournament in 2014, and they have been amazing in making me feel right at home.  

Football-wise, it has been liberating because I am given much more freedom in an attacking role, I can go inside, go outside, send the ball in.

My confidence has definitely improved. With Tampines, I felt restricted and was under pressure not to make mistakes, but with the Young Lions, I feel like I can play like myself and really show my capabilities.


Van Huizen hopes to don the national jersey for a long time

Are you still hopeful of being in the national team for the Suzuki Cup Squad?

I can only give my best in the upcoming games and hopefully give the national selectors something to think about.  

But I won’t be disappointed if I don’t make the squad. Making it to the national team last year for me was just pure luck honestly.

I had some good moments last year but it’s really because I was playing with great players like (Khairul) Amri and Safuwan (Baharudin).

They are the ones who pushed me towards excellence and I am thankful for that. I won’t consider myself a national player yet until I have been there for at least two or three years.

Photos: Weixiang Lim/FFT