SINGAPORE: Singapore women’s national football team player Putri Nur Syaliza Sazali has accepted an overseas athletic scholarship, becoming the first local female footballer to receive one.
The 17-year-old attacker will depart for Cumberland University on Saturday (Jan 9) after accepting the four-year scholarship offer at the university in Tennessee, United States.
She will major in Sports Management and turn out for the university’s team, the Cumberland Phoenix. The team takes part in the Mid-South Conference Tournament of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and is preparing for the new season, which begins mid-February.
Putri started exploring overseas football scholarships last year, and focused her efforts on the US.
“To be honest, I didn’t rate my chances at all, and I just wanted to try my luck,” she said in an article on the website of the Football Association of Singapore (FAS).
She received Cumberland University’s offer in late September. She had been attracted by the university team's attacking style of play after watching YouTube videos.
At 14 years and 353 days old, Putri became Singapore’s youngest debutant and scorer at the international level after coming on as a substitute in March 2018 and scoring the opener in a 2-0 friendly win over the Maldives. Those marks have since been eclipsed by Danelle Tan.
Putri has since gained another five caps, and told the FAS that she hopes she will be able to gain a top-level football education in the US.
While none of her family members will be able to accompany her due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, the young star is excited about the next step in her footballing journey.
“I will take it slowly step-by-step but I really hope to make the most of my experiences aboard and hopefully do well enough to play professional football overseas one day,” she said.
“I hope that me being offered the athletic scholarship will spur and motivate other girls to pursue their passion in football since they now know that it is actually possible to achieve something like this,” she added.
“We just need to work hard and have faith in ourselves, and eventually everything will work out well.”
FAS’ head of Grassroots and Women’s Football Julie Teo said: “We are very pleased that Putri received the scholarship through football into Cumberland University, as it does show that we do have the talent pool for women’s football, and it is definitely something for us to build on."