Football: Mahathir returns, confident and poised

Football: Mahathir returns, confident and poised
HAPPY TO BE HOME: Mahathir Azeman shaking hands with his fellow students from Siglap Secondary School at Changi Airport.

He turned Changi Airport Terminal One's arrival hall into his personal stage, waltzing past the gantry with an easy beaming smile and an almost presidential wave.

Even in the face of a 50-strong guard-of-honour of Siglap Secondary School students lining up for him, Mahathir Azeman did not flinch.

It was hard to imagine that this was the same wide-eyed 17-year-old, who, five months ago, left for Rio de Janeiro with butterflies in his stomach and a backpack full of dreams.

Back to sit for O Level examinations in his three remaining subjects, with a one-year extension to his Boavista contract secured, Mahathir spoke with a maturity beyond his years.

"Being there has changed me. I've had to learn to mingle with new people and learn how to handle that without being able to converse freely because of the language," he said.

"But because of it I feel more matured, make better decisions than before, take more responsibility in my studies and manage my time better."

It is an attitude that will serve him well. Mahathir returns to school today, with an eye on acing his three remaining subjects: combined humanities, combined sciences and English.

He has already obtained passing grades in mathematics and second language, giving him the five subjects required for a student to qualify for a polytechnic.

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