Football: An adventure and an opportunity

Football: An adventure and an opportunity
(From left) Nur Adam Abdullah, Elijah Lim and Hamizan Hisham at Chiangi Airport.
PHOTO: Nick Tan

He watched in amazement as the Lions drew 0-0 with Asian powerhouses Japan in a World Cup qualifier last week.

Very few gave Singapore a chance of pulling off such a result in Saitama, especially against a full-strength Blue Samurai side packed with European-based internationals.

But Hamizan Hisham and the rest of the country watched with increasing amazement as the Lions repelled everything the Japanese threw at them to register a famous draw.

Today, nearly one week later, Hamizan, 14, is in the Land of the Rising Sun, getting a taste of what professional football is like, in a country which features one of the strongest domestic leagues on the continent.

The defender is one of three national Under-14 players who will spend a week with newly promoted J-League club Matsumoto Yamaga, as part of a collaboration between Epson Singapore and the Football Association of Singapore (FAS).

The trip is part of Epson Singapore's three-year sponsorship deal with FAS, signed in Aug 2013 and worth around $1 million.

Incredible Feeling

"It was an incredible feeling to see Singapore draw against Japan, and now I get to visit and train in Japan for the first time. I hope to learn as much as possible," said Hamizan, whose dad coaches the national women's football team. The other two players selected for the trip are 14-year-old defender Nur Adam Abdullah and midfielder Elijah Lim, and the group are from the Singapore Sports School.

Besides taking part in the club's youth training programme, the trio will also stay in the Matsumoto Yamaga dorm and attend their league match against Shonan Bellmare on Saturday.

"This is another aspect I love about football, being able to face new opponents and rivals on the pitch, but also make new friends off it," said Adam.

Like his two friends, Elijah also dreams to one day be a full international, and he said: "I aspire to be a professional footballer and I also want to play football abroad, and coach after I stop playing.

"When I watch the way professionals play, it inspires me, especially the way they keep calm and simple things like how they hold on to possession."

S Rajan, FAS general manager of youth development and junior centres of excellence, explained that the three youngsters were selected not just because of their football abilities.

"Over the past two years, they were also the most consistent in terms of their drive and good attitude during training," he said.

"During their interview with Epson, they also impressed with their eagerness to learn and explore, as well as how they conducted themselves."

Epson Singapore general manager (sales division) Tan May Lin said: "Epson is happy to play its part in providing the best resources possible to groom Singapore's future football stars.

"Through watching and training with one of Asia's best professional teams, we hope that our youth will be motivated to pick up tactical tips and aspire towards being the best in the field.

"Beyond skills, we hope they will also bring home the essence of being a good sportsman, as they see values such as respect, discipline and the importance of teamwork come to life through the players."

This article was first published on June 23, 2015.
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