Interviews

In grades-obsessed Singapore, a young footballer dreams big

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Inspired by Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard, Hui made up his mind as a child, he too wanted to score screamers and inspire his team to victories, and Hui has made some progress towards doing exactly that.

Coming on as a substitute earlier this year in the National A Division Boys’ football final, Hui blitzed the opponents with a hat-trick to ensure his side won its fourth consecutive football title. MJC triumphed 3-1 against Victoria Junior College.

At Hougang, he has Phillippe Aw to mentor him, a coach who has had a track record of placing faith in youngsters

His star is slowly rising. At Hougang where he signed a Prime League contract in January, Hui has Philippe Aw as a mentor, a coach with a track record of placing faith in youngsters.

Aw has given a number of teenagers their debuts this year in cup games and bit-part league appearances and these competitions provide a more competitive outlook to young footballers.

“Coach Philippe gives me a lot of words of advice. He is such a down to earth person and I appreciate him giving me the chance. The message was clear to me when I was picked and I will have to work hard to continue being given chances.”

Since switching from the Young Lions to Hougang, Hui has played three games with the Cheetahs and the most time he had on the pitch was playing 80 minutes against Cambodian side Nagaworld

Hui (first from right) was given a run out for Hougang against Nagaworld

But Hui's love for football does not mean he will give up on his studies. He will continue to juggle both, because he recognises each are important.

“I wouldn’t say I completely put all my importance to football in my life so far," said the level-headed youngster.

It's just that I have come to a point in my education where I know I will have a stable certificate (GCE ‘A’ Level)

"It's just that I have come to a point in my education where I know I will have a stable certificate (GCE ‘A’ Level). So now, I can continue football and put more time into football.

“If I get a good enough A-level certificate I can always opt to go into university if things do not go well in football. Most probably, I will be looking into maybe business or even football coaching.”

In a country like Singapore where the social norms are to put studies first, Hui is among the small majority who still actively pursue the dream of a career in football.

He had a word of advice for budding footballers.

He said: “I will tell them that studies will be important. Go get a basic certificate and you should continue trying to balance out studies and football. But, at the end of the day, passion is really important and you should not give up following it.”

Photos: Supplied