THE FINISHING LINE
BASIC INSTINCT
HERE TO PLAY GETS TO KNOW THE YOUNGEST PLAYER ON SINGAPORE NATIONAL WOMEN'S FOOTBALL TEAM, PUTRI NUR SYALIZA.
13-Jun-2018

Getting called up to join the Lionesses was a huge moment for the then-14 year-old Putri Nur Syaliza, and a culmination of a longtime ambition. After all, Putri, now 15, has been kicking a soccer ball since she was four and grew up in a family, in which all members -- her four older brothers and her parents -- play the game. One of her brothers, Syahrul Sazali, is part of the Young Lions team. "This is certainly a dream come true," says the Queenstown Secondary three student, who started playing competitively at seven.

The call came from the national team's coach K. Balagumaran, who witnessed Putri's performance for her club, the Warriors FC, in a 4-1 win over Police Sports Association in the FAS-Sports Hub Women's Challenge Cup final in November 2017. The cherry on the cake came when Putri went on to score a goal on her national team debut -- a friendly against the Maldives -- on 5 March this year at the National Stadium. "I did not expect to score. I got really lucky I think," says the midfielder, who at the time barely knew her teammates.

These days, Putri trains every weekday after school -- Monday, Wednesday and Friday with the national women's team; Tuesday and Thursday with the Warriors. "It is tough juggling both my studies and football, but I just do it anyway. I enjoy the game too much," lets in Putri, who was named the 2017 Football Association of Singapore (FAS) Young Player of the Year (Women's). She counts Argentine footballer Lionel Messi as one of her heroes. To other little girls hoping to get good at the sport, Putri's advice is short and sweet: "Just believe in yourself and work hard."