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Second-youngest scorer in FAS Women’s National League history to trial in the United States

With four goals in six matches in private football academy JSSL Singapore’s Under-14 league, Danelle Tan’s form this season may not initially raise eyebrows.

Not until you realise that the forward, 14, is the only girl in the all-boys’ competition.

“Playing with the boys has definitely improved my game,” said Danelle, who started playing football at age six.

“The boys are physically stronger and better, so I have had to play smart – which means I have to take fewer touches on the ball and find different ways to goal.”

Tomorrow, the St Joseph’s Institution International School student will take her first steps towards a career in football when she travels to Boston, the United States, for The New England Top 100 College Showcase.

The showcase offers an opportunity for coaches from the top women’s college football teams to identify promising talents to recruit.In previous years, talented players from the showcase have been offered scholarships to study and play at the colleges.

The US are the most successful team in the women’s game, having won three of the seven Women’s World Cups, including the last one in 2015.

College football in the US is known for its competitiveness and, after their collegiate careers, top players have gone on to play professionally in the National Women’s Soccer League or in other professional leagues around the world.

The prospect of a sponsored college education, coupled with the chance to play football, represents a perfect opportunity for Danelle.

“I would not sacrifice my education for football,” said Danelle, who counts Arsenal’s Dutch forward Vivianne Miedema as her idol.


“I want to get a good education in the colleges there and play football at a high level as well, so this opportunity is very appealing to me.”

Danelle has been in good form of late, as she showed when netting on her debut for Still Aerion FC in the Football Association of Singapore’s (FAS) Women’s National League two weeks ago.

It made her, at 14 years, six months and 26 days, the second-youngest goalscorer in the competition’s history.

Nur Atikah Ardini Salleh holds the record after finding the net when she was 14 years, five months and nine days old.

In March, Danelle also finished as joint-top scorer, alongside Moldova’s Colnic Iuliana, after bagging five goals in the Uefa-FAS U-15 Girls’ Tournament.

Danelle’s father, Tan Meng Wei, 46 – who is sponsoring her trip to Boston – said that his daughter’s trip to the US and an earlier training stint with Arsenal Women were made possible by the recent rise of women’s football.

There has been feverish anticipation for the Women’s World Cup in France, which kicks off on Saturday morning (Singapore time), while several club attendance records were broken this past season.

Investment in the sport has also continued to reach new heights both on and off the pitch. In March, Barclays were named as the first title sponsors of the newly professional Women’s Super League in England. The three-year partnership, said to be worth in excess of £10 million (S$17.3m), will start next season.

“It has been a hallmark of Danelle’s life that she is always at the right place at the right time,” said Tan, 46, who is the CEO of Star Learners Group.

“Even on the pitch, she has that instinct to be always at the right place and time to get the goals.

“With all these changes, she is getting opportunities that would not have been possible five years ago.

“We want to take everything one step at a time, but primarily, the US trip should give her an indication of how she stacks up against the Americans. ”