By Marcus ChhanFollow @@MarcusChhan
As the confetti rained down on a small section of the Jalan Besar pitch on Sunday in Singapore, Nike's global talent spotting competition called ‘The Chance' got a little bit more serious.
On Sunday, Nazirul Islam Bin Abdul Razak (20), Sim Li Ming (23), Faris Bin Ramli (19), Randy Pay Zhan Hao (21), and Afiq Bin Mat Noor (19) were named as the five winners from 18 finalists participating at Singapore's Country Finals. And with the announcement, the final make-up of the Regional Finals - consisting of five players each from Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore - was confirmed.
The Regional Finals is being held in Jakarta from June 10-13 and there the 20 boys will undergo training with some of SE Asia's top youth coaches as well as fitness sessions with Paul Winsper of Nike SPARQ fame.
An international panel - including ‘The Chance' Singapore head coach V.Sundramoorthy - will then need to decide on which four players to put through to the next round, the Global Finals of the competition which will be in Barcelona, Spain.
"They [the five boys picked from Singapore] are ready to compete for their places in Barcelona," Sundramoorthy told ESPNSTAR.com.
"They have an equal chance [of making the Global Finals]."
For the moment though Sundramoorthy does not want to think too far ahead. When he spoke to the media shortly after handing five Singaporeans their tickets to the Jakarta showpiece, it was clear that he wanted to highlight how difficult a task it had been for him on Sunday rather than muse about next week's Regional Finals.
In fact, just moments before his announcement, Sundramoorthy joked that he would've had an easier time picking a team in his day job as LIONSXII coach rather than choosing the five winners of the Country Finals for Nike ‘The Chance' in Singapore.
"We had so much talent to choose from here at the Country Finals and now, we have the top five boys who we feel will be able to make an impression at the Regional Finals," he said.
"These boys fit the bill in terms of what we were looking for which were, first touch, mental fortitude and skill on the ball."
The five players from Singapore booked their place in Jakarta after impressing in Sunday's 3-1 friendly defeat to a Home United youth team as well as during Saturday's Nike Elite Training drills.
"Today was not about the result," Sundramoorthy said.
Nike says that in preparation for the Regional Finals, the five representatives from Singapore will experience personal mentoring from Sundramoorthy and current Singapore international Hariss Harun before heading to Jakarta.
"I feel honoured," 19-year-old Faris Bin Ramli said shortly after finding out he had been picked for the Regional Finals.
"I came [to Nike ‘The Chance'] just for the experience."
That Faris was chosen did not come as a surprise to any of us at Jalan Besar on Sunday. His trickery and pace down the flank was there for everyone to see. By his own admission, the teenager was a bit of a late bloomer in football but now after being given the chance and tasting success, he admits to harbouring dreams of one day pulling on Singapore's national team jersey.
And that can only be a good thing for Singapore football to have more young boys dreaming of playing for their county.
‘The Chance' is Nike Football's global competition seeking out the next wave of hungry young footballers.
Nike scouts are on the hunt in more than 50 countries to find 100 potential champions to battle it out at the Global Final in Barcelona.
You can read more stories on ‘The Chance' by clicking on the links below.