National Team - Lionesses ● Mar 09, 2018
Priscilla Tan: Setting goals one at a time
Following in the footsteps of the first female Singaporean player, Lim Shiya, to play overseas, Women’s National Team player Priscilla Tan has joined Australia’s National Premier League Women’s side Eastern Suburbs FC for the 2018 season.
In February this year, Priscilla Tan decided to seek a new challenge in her footballing career by heading Down Under for trials.
What she never expected was the speed at which she found it.
It took just one day for the Singapore Women’s National Team (WNT) midfielder to be signed by Eastern Suburbs FC, which competes in the semi-professional National Premier League Women’s (NPLW).
“I emailed the Australian clubs and flew over for a trial and training session with the Eastern Suburbs City League team (which plays two tiers lower),” the 25-year-old recalled. “The club then wanted me to try training with their NPL team. The following day, they said they wanted to sign me and that was it!”
Having played football since her schooling days, captained her local club and also made the national team, Priscilla decided at the end of last year that she wanted to achieve something more.
“I wanted some change, to push myself and improve as a player,” she said. “I’ve thought about playing overseas before but have never acted on it. A football career can only last so long, so I felt that I couldn’t let the years slip by without doing anything.”
Australia was the first country that came to her mind when she thought about playing abroad as there are many teams across different tiers of women’s football, providing her with more options.
The NPLW is Queensland’s top female football competition and Australia’s second tier league, which underpins the Westfield W-League. Former WNT midfielder Lim Shiya played for W-League team Perth Glory FC from 2008 to 2009.
It may have been a swift decision but it was not an impulsive one – and came with her family’s full backing.
“My parents have always been accepting of what I do and supportive of me playing football,” she said. “My dad has watched many of my games, doing so whenever he’s free and sometimes, he comes with my mum. Even when I made the decision to leave Singapore to play in Australia, they were alright with that.”
Priscilla trains twice a week with the team and does her own training on other days. Having played twice in the league so far, she admitted that the faster pace and higher intensity there has forced her to step up her game and make decisions quicker on the pitch.
Off the field, she has to cope with being away from her family and friends as she navigates the challenges of adapting to life in a different country.
Fortunately for Priscilla, who is living alone, her coach Karyn Longbottom and teammates have helped to ease the transition.
“They are approachable and open to talks and discussions, which helps me to familiarise myself with how they play, especially in defense,” she said.
She added determinedly: “I have got to make do (and adapt) in order to pursue my passion.”
Priscilla’s love for football started as a kid, under the influence of her football-loving father and the sport gradually grew on her as both bonded over watching matches on television.
She started playing competitive football in 2010 for Victoria Junior College (VJC) before continuing to do so at Nanyang Technological University, where she studied Sports Science and Management. Priscilla aims to become a physiotherapist and work in women’s football after her playing career and is planning to further her studies with a Master’s degree in Physiotherapy in Australia.
Determined and passionate, setting one goal at a time has helped Priscilla to get to where she is now.
“It started out with getting into a female team since I’ve only played with boys when I was young,” she explained. “After I joined VJC, I wanted to win something with the team (VJC won the A Division girls’ titles in 2010 and 2011).
“Then I went to university and my new goal was to join a competitive club to try and achieve something. When the doors opened for me to enter the National Team in 2013, I hoped to improve slowly to get some game time before cementing my place in the squad.”
Priscilla started played club football in 2012 with the now-defunct Women’s Premier League club Petra FC. She then moved to play with Jollilads Arsenal FC, now known as Woodlands Wellington FC, in 2013 and stayed with the club for five years.
“2017 was a big year for me when I captained Woodlands and I think we achieved a lot last year – finishing second in the Women’s Premier League and third in the Women’s Challenge Cup,” she said. “I can say confidently it was our best year going into a two-league system and we did well against the good clubs.
“So naturally, the question for me was ‘what next?’ Going overseas seemed the logical path to take next to see how far I can push myself, to find out my potential, and also to really play football at a higher level.
“As much as I am still only an amateur in Brisbane, I think I can push myself to even greater heights as the club football here has high standards.”
As the second female Singaporean player to ply her trade overseas, Priscilla hopes to encourage young players to pursue their passion for football.
“Don’t walk away without knocking on the door to see what’s there for you,” she said. “There will be struggles but if you want it badly, it will work out if you pursue it and be determined enough.
“In the end, how successful we are in terms of picking up the sport or playing overseas boils down to working hard and doing the simple things right. As long as you are willing to do that, I don’t think it’s impossible to venture overseas to play!”