Just a week ago, in what was known as a first in the Singapore football scene, Tampines Rovers midfielder Kyoga Nakamura signed a 5-year deal that would see him remain a Stag till December 2026. In local football, where clubs are known to offer one-year or even 11-month deals, Tampines Rovers has bucked the trend by handing new 5-year deals to promising youngsters Joel Chew and Shah Shahiran, in
their bid to wrest back the Singapore Premier League (SPL) title. (Tampines last won the domestic league in 2013) This makes both players the first two Singaporean footballers to have penned a five-year contract in the Singapore Premier League.
Pace and passing impressive
With his metronomic passing ability and fairly quick pace, Joel Chew played a preponderant role in Young Lion’s 2021 SPL campaign, clocking 1558 minutes and adding 1 goal and 2 assists to his records. Having been given his professional debut in 2019 by the Stags, he went on to make 11 league and six Singapore Cup appearances for Tampines in 2019 and scored his maiden goal with a fabulous effort against Hougang United in the league.
The center midfielder further highlighted his potential with another amazing goal in the Singapore Cup final as Tampines triumphed 4-3 against Warriors FC. Short of stature, but more than makes up for those lack of inches with his speed over the ground, sumptuous ball skills, and strength in possession, Joel has also represented the Under-16 and Under-19 national teams. In addition, he was included in the Under-22 national team that participated in the U-23 Asian cup qualifiers.
When asked about signing a new deal with Tampines Rovers, Joel said “the club has also shown immense faith in me with this contract. Not everyone in Singapore can say they have signed a five-year deal, this is more common in Europe, and I truly feel valued by the Stags. I aim to repay the club’s trust in me by making major contributions to the team in coming seasons once I have fulfilled my NS obligations.”
While his skills are beyond doubt, Joel has also been hailed to have what it takes to be a crucial segment in the Stags’ quest for the domestic league title. “Joel has made many steps forward from when he joined the club in 2019 and he has since demonstrated that he has the ability to perform at a higher level too,” states Tampines Rovers head coach Gavin Lee. “Fuelled by his desire to prove his doubters wrong, Joel is another individual (like Kyoga) who is not easily contented and we believe that we have only scratched the surface with his potential.”
Joel Chew’s and Shah Shahiran’s contract with Tampines is a positive change for local football as this shows that big clubs in Singapore are willing to open doors to talented and hardworking youngsters. The trust that such a prestigious club like Tampines Rovers, with a history spanning more than seven decades, have on youngsters is commendable.
Chew must finish National Service first
Currently, Joel Chew is serving his National Service and would only be able to don the Stags jersey after he finishes his National Service. He aims to win the league with Tampines in the future and has other goals as well.
“As things stand, my immediate goal is getting into the squad that will compete in the upcoming SEA Games,’’ asserts Joel. “But that’s not all. I have set myself other targets as well, including national team call-ups. Of course, I have set myself other targets as well, including a national team call-up. Of course, I understand that getting into the national team will be challenging. Yet, I am certain that it can be achievable with hard work and consistent performances.”
Joel’s brilliant technique and versatility would give a vital extra dimension to the Stags engine room. Whether used centrally, on the left or right, this fascinating youngster clearly is an outstanding prospect, one whose natural habitat is the highest level of the game.