Meet Daniel Bennett, a professional footballer who mainly plays center-back and full-back. Originally from England, he now holds Singapore Citizenship under the Foreign Sports Talent Scheme (FST) which was given to him in 2002 in order to play international football for Singapore. At 41 years of age, shuttling between Singapore and England, he holds valuable experience of what it’s not only like to be a professional footballer but what it’s like to play in a team in which the members are different than you and what it’s like being a long reining member of the team.
Let’s learn more about the man who currently holds 137 caps for Singapore, therefore holding the national record for the most international matches played. Bennett is no foreigner to Singapore. He moved from England to there and for a majority of his schooling life, studied in the United World College of South East Asia in which his father was a teacher turned headmaster. Bennett had controversially or boldly stated that UWC had zero impact on him as a footballer. He then later pursued an honors degree in Sports Science from Loughborough University. Admirably, he then did a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) online,
To follow his football career we would have to follow and list the many clubs he’s played for in Singapore and England. From what he’s told us, his football journey started at the young age of 12, playing for Tiong Bahru, a district in Singapore. Additionally, he played for the local team when he was at uni. Bennett has been playing for over 20 years including playing 2 years in Division I for England and has played for Singapore more than a hundred times.
Bennett gives a little insight into his hectic training schedule. He trained for a prolonged career and was required to train 5-6x week. Sometimes, he would have a double session which means he would have two separate training sessions in one day.
Bennett had a lot to say about the differences in England and Singapore when it comes to football. Bennet prefers England due to the level of fi football there. He says that everyone’s for themselves and “they have a desire to be the best”. In terms of resources, England has better resources and love for football as most people in Singapore prefer or only watch the premier league rather than what’s actually going on in Singapore.
However, what’s really interesting is everything beyond this general knowledge of who Daniel Bennett is. He’s one of the few people who has managed to bag a prolonged position in a football team despite his age. Bennett faced a lot of jealousy from his teammates. He tells us about how that, along with his ethnicity, make him a tough competitor with the newer, younger additions to the team who were mad about having a “foreigner” in their team. Unfortunately, or luckily for Bennett, he saw his relationship improve with the players as he, in the words of Bennett, went down a “downward spiral”.
He also speaks to us about the nerve-wracking wait of The Contract. Now, every footballer signs a contract in which it states the number of years that one will play for a specific team which is normally 1-2 years. If you’re good enough, you might get your contract renewed and Bennett weighs in about how he’s been very lucky to have his contract renewed despite his age.
But now, Daniel Bennett, the famous footballer, is, in fact, a senior associate realtor, a job route he followed at the age of 35. He said he quit football as a full-time job in 2018. He told us about the shift between jobs and admits that it’s hard sustaining one career. But luckily for Bennett, his job provides him with the flexibility of managing a job and his position on the Tampines Rover team. Despite his life being in Singapore, he currently resieds in Johor with his wife.
He hopes that Singapore would place more importance on football, especially in terms of funding and organization. Like most Singaporean sports players, he sees National Service as an obstruction. National Service requires all male Singaporean citizens, first hand and second-hand permanent residents to be drafted at 18 till 20, and they are liable to be called back for a maximum of 40 days of National Service every year until the age of 50 years (for officers) or 40 years (for others). This poses a huge problem to those who have contracts lined up for them to join teams or have matches to play and poses as an obstacle for youth players. Furthermore, he hopes the career path and hobby of sports is more widely accepted by parents who encourage their kids to follow their dreams as he recognizes most Singaporean parents to favor academics. Lastly, he hopes to see more passion for the in Singaporeans for Singapore’s national sport – Football.