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This teenager is breaking records at football and training with the boys – and she’s hungry for more

WorldAsiaThis teenager is breaking records at football and training with the boys – and she's hungry for more
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Daniel Tan discovered his football talent by chance.

At the age of just six, she joined a football club in Singapore where her brothers played every Saturday.

Tan said, “I felt a little lonely at home … so I asked my parents if I could join.”

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He scored 12 goals on his first-class debut – an impressive performance that was just the beginning of his achievements in the game.

Last month, this 18-year-old player created history First Singaporean woman to play in European league After making his debut for the London Bees.

The young athlete shares his thoughts on success, sacrifice and essential life skills cnbc make it,

not just a man’s sport

Due to his mother’s initial reservations about the sport – it took some convincing before Tan was able to set foot on a pitch.

“Probably just the fact that it’s not a very common sport that girls play,” she said.

The notion that soccer is a “men’s game” is nothing new, but Tan said he believes it is changing.

“I think women’s football in general is getting away, top three most [attended] sports in europe Women’s sports are there – it’s going in the right direction and it’s great to see.”

Tan has since received full support from his parents in pursuing a professional career in football.

“I knew that in Singapore, my development as a player would stop. If I wanted to achieve my goals of becoming a professional footballer, I would have to go abroad.”

Daniel Tan (aged 12 in this picture) scored 12 goals in his first grade at the age of six – an impressive performance that was just the beginning of his achievements in the game.

Daniel Tan

In early 2022, Tan decided to move to London and has since been attending Mill Hill High School—where she is also the first female player on her soccer team.

“When I first joined, there was no girls’ team… The original intention was always to join the boys’ team to ensure that I could challenge myself,” Tan said.

This means working “harder” than the rest of his team.

“At the same age, they are a lot more physical and quicker so I have to think faster, I have to move the ball faster to match that physicality,” she said.

Tan never saw this as a loss. Instead, he saw it as a reason to bow down.

Tan said, “I wasn’t the most talented or the fastest when I was growing up. I think I worked too hard, I put my head down and kept working.”

“It’s about not settling for less.”

snakes and Ladders

I’m only 18 so I don’t know where life will take me. I always think of life as a game of snakes and ladders.

She said, “I never really thought about it. I’m only 18 years old, so I don’t know where life will take me. I always think of life as a game of snakes and ladders.”

“A lot of us probably wish our journeys were linear and you continually improve. But it’s up and then down and then you might get a ladder straight up, and later you might get a snake down. “

One of his toughest experiences was sitting out the game for four months after rupturing a ligament.

“The whole rehab process was incredibly long… you don’t even [set] Feet on the pitch, you don’t touch a ball,” Tan said.

“I had a really good support system. A lot of my friends were very supportive, especially my family – that helped me make a comeback.”

But one thing is certain: The last thing Tan wants is to “stagnate” in his journey as an athlete.

“Can I be Singapore’s all-time [best] Goal scorer or can I be the top goal scorer in my club? I just want to keep striving for more and reach for more.”

discipline and sacrifice

Juggling an athletic career and school is no small feat. A typical day for TAN starts at 8 am, with classes going on till 4.30 pm

“Then I usually work with a strength and conditioning coach after school for about an hour and a half to two hours,” she said.

After dinner, it’s training with the London Bees.

“I usually get back to my dorm around 10 p.m., take a shower, wash my clothes, dry my hair, and then I usually try to find some time before bed to read.”

I don’t think there is anyone in the whole world who can be motivated every day… It’s discipline. It’s doing it even when you don’t want it to.

When asked what it is that drives him to do this day after day, Tan said that it is “not motivation” that keeps him going, but “a lot of discipline and sacrifice.”

She said, “I don’t think there’s anyone in the whole world who can be more inspired every day. I’d rather lie in bed watching Netflix. But I don’t have time for that.”

“It’s discipline. Doing it even when you don’t want to do it.”

The biggest sacrifice is living 11,000 km away from family and friends in Singapore, which Tan said can be “a bit lonely”.

Nevertheless, she stressed that discipline and making sacrifices for what matters is a “very important skill” that she will need later in life.

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