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Iman, Yu En Transform Into Swans
Albirex Niigata Singapore FC 2020 Season Signing
One month and a day after Iman Hakim Ibrahim was crowned winner of the 2019 TNP Dollah Kassim Award on 15 November 2019, the Singapore Sports School footballer sealed another milestone in his sport career. He and Ong Yu En, both in Year 1 of the Diploma in Business programme, became official members of Albirex Niigata Singapore FC in the 2020 Singapore Premier League season on 16 December. Albirex Niigata Singapore is a satellite team of Japanese club Albirex Niigata.
The offer to play for the 2018 League champions came as a surprise to Iman, 17, and Yu En, 16 – the two youngest players in the 22-man team. With the hard-earned opportunity, both post-secondary footballers, who are among five Singaporeans in the team in the upcoming season, are filled with anticipation for learning from their more experienced teammates so as to mature as a footballer.
“I’m looking forward to playing in the 2020 Singapore Premier League and being stretched as a player through competing alongside and against experienced footballers. I’ll have to play quicker, smarter and get stronger so to match up to the more mature players,” said Yu En.
In addition to the higher level of skill possessed by footballers in top tier professional clubs, Iman hopes that the disciplined culture and strong work ethic possessed by Japanese players will accelerate his development.
“The Japanese are known for being disciplined on and off the pitch, as well as their strong mental game. I’ve had the opportunity to train with and compete against several Japanese teams and these two traits are important qualities required by serious athletes. Therefore, I hope that being immersed in this positive culture will help in my development. For example, I’ve noticed that the Japanese would arrive at least 30 minutes prior to the start of training to prepare for the session, putting in extra warm up so they are ready to give their best. Extra practice continues after training to improve their game and work on weaker areas. I also hope to become better technically and tactically,” said Iman.
On 8 January 2018, Sports School alumnus Adam Swandi was one of two Singaporeans recruited by Albirex – the White Swans’ first time signing Singaporeans. The Swans topped the table in the 2018 S.League when Adam was part of the team. With Iman and Yu En joining the flock, the two young players are determined to help the team reclaim the trophy.
Harhys Rizal Gareth Stewart Muhammad Ian Stewart (DBS Year 3) and Mohamed Sahffee Jubpre (DSLM Year 3) are also new recruits in the Young Lions for the upcoming SPL season.