He got into a perfect goal scoring position, fired a shot and missed the target. Gary Tran covered his face with both his hands, but despite that misplaced effort, the Singapore Permanent Resident already has seven goals to his name so far in the Centre of Excellence (COE) Under-16 League.
Hailing from Vietnam, the 16 year-old secondary two student from Whitley Secondary School has never felt out of place in a country that he now calls home.
“I have been in Singapore since I was seven years old, and I am very comfortable here. I have progressed through the education system here and I feel like I’m Singaporean now.
“I don’t feel out of place at all having to mingle around with younger friends. I have plenty of friends who are in the upper secondary level too,” Gary told aXrosstheline.com
The only son in the family to a Singaporean father who runs his own business and Vietnamese mother shared that his mother is from a small town Southern Vietnam by the name of Soctrang, in the vicinity of Ho Chi Minh City. His parents are very supportive in his quest to become a professional footballer as long as it does not affect his studies.
“Timing is very important to me and I push my way through despite all the fatigue from training sessions and games. If I can manage my time properly, there should not be too many problems balancing both.
“I want to excel in both, and I believe that I can do it,” vowed Gary.
The striker has already applied for citizenship but has yet to receive the green light to become a full fledged Singaporean.
“The National Football Academy teams have not asked me to join them yet. But I was told by some friends to attend trials that they conducted, but I didn’t have the courage to go as I fear rejection.
“My case is different from the rest of the boys. But it’s alright, I will work had to see if I can get selected based on merit in the near future,” said Gary, who turned 16 today.
Gary’s seven goals put him among the goal-scorers charts in the Under-16 league, but he is not getting carried away with his achievements.
“Without my team mates, I wouldn’t be able to score so many goals this season. I still have a lot of work to do though; something people don’t see is my inability to convert simple chances in front of goals. I may have scored seven, but I have missed more than that, and I don’t think that is good enough,” Gary said humbly.
Speaking exclusively to aXrosstheline.com, Gary shared that his dream is to progress up the ranks and represent his adopted country one day.
“Right now, I just want to work harder to score more goals. Hopefully I can win an individual award come end of the season. I hope to progress to the next level which is the under-18 and then the Prime League, and the S-League after that.
Philippe Aw has witnessed the growth of Gary the footballer since the lad was a 12 year-old and is perhaps the best person to provide an assessment of the under-16 league hotshot.
“Gary has been with me since he was 12, and I must say he is a very good boy who is willing to listen and learn.
“He has improved a lot since the first day I saw him and I think that he has to work on his weaker left foot to make him a better player,” said Aw, head coach of Home United’s COE Under-16 side.
Fans who are keen to watch Gary Tran in action, can head here for the full fixtures of the Centre of Excellence Under-16 League.