Young Lions are finding other ways to bond with footballing activities still suspended

Here are what some of Singapore’s most promising young footballers did during the circuit breaker.

Phoon Jia Hui

Published: 3 June 2020, 3:03 PM

It has been more than three months since their last competitive fixture in the Singapore Premier League (SPL) and since then, the Young Lions have only been able to train and hone their skills via Zoom sessions.

With classes going online too, the budding footballers had plenty of free time too.

But how are they truly coping with the circuit breaker measures?

In a light-hearted 20-minute chat segment on Cr8StudioSG – a partnership between National Youth Council Singapore and Creative Nation – Young Lions’ Jacob Mahler, Ilhan Fandi Ahmad, Veer Karan Sobti, Danial Scott Crichton, Ryhan Stewart and Team Manager Samuel Tan took turns to answer questions posed to them whilst making fun of each other.

If there was one thing the 55-day long circuit breaker has taught them, it is to never take anything – whether it is football or other matters – for granted again. “I probably started to kick a ball since I could walk, so this has definitely got to be the longest time I’ve gone without playing football,” admitted midfielder Ryhan.

That drew a reaction from Jacob, who exclaimed: “Wow, Ryhan”. The Young Lions captain also echoed the same sentiments.


The Young Lions certainly had plenty of fun in the chat on Cr8StudioSG.


“COVID-19 has taught me discipline. Although we are staying at home, we still have that responsibility as professional athletes to make sure we take care of our bodies,” the 20-year-old said.

“We can’t just be lazing around at home. It can get boring at times and you would lack that sense of motivation. But for me and most of the team, we are really trying our best to become a better player during this period, physically and mentally.”

Defender Danial added that the whole situation came as a ‘shock’ to him. “You never realise how important football is because you don’t have the time to reflect on what you do in your daily lives,” said the 17-year-old.

“And all of a sudden, football just stopped and you don’t know what else to do.”

Meanwhile, Karan, the youngest of the lot at 16, has found a silver lining during this period.

“One thing that has come out of staying at home is that I can learn something new – something I wouldn’t have time for normally!” he enthused.

“I’ve been learning how to cook recently, but this is like a life lesson you know… I still need some practice and a bit of trial and error until I get better.”

While Singapore has exited its circuit breaker, it is still unclear as to when the footballers will be allowed to resume training on the field. But the boys are already eagerly awaiting in anticipation.

Apart from that, Ilhan is also itching to get back to resuming his National Service duties.

“I’m looking forward to returning to camp actually and to fight for the nation,” Ilhan said, as the others started laughing.

“I’m already in (National Service), so I just have to go back. For those of you who haven’t tasted NS, wait for it!”

Jokes aside, the 17-year-old added: “I’m really looking forward to seeing my friends, but we can’t do that in Phase 1 yet, only in Phase 2. I just want to try to go out and chill with my friends, that’s all.”

Mahler agreed, taking a dig at Ilhan cheekily in the process.

“It’s too boring to stay at home playing PS4 everyday,” he said. “Playing Fortnite Battle Royale with Ilhan is the worst, so I need to get out and pick a ball, go to training and see my friends.”


Young Lions caption Jacob Mahler made use of the opportunity to poke fun at his teammates. PHOTO CREDIT: SCREENSHOT FROM CR8STUDIOSG’S FACEBOOK


The boys also had a message for their fans, as the topic of who among them is the most popular among girls came up.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s only girls, it’s still fans,” Ilhan noted.

“We didn’t think many people would come to watch us play at Jurong West (our temporary home ground), but the turnout was good.  Although we are in this situation, I’m sure we will get out of it once the league starts. Keep supporting the Young Lions, the boys will do good and thank you for the support.”

Mahler added: “Hopefully we can go back to playing football as soon as possible. I don’t think the fans can come to the stadiums even when the league resumes, but hopefully they will be able to do so once the pandemic is over. Seeing our fans is something I’m really looking forward to.”


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