She was making music with the French horn at the age of nine.
Four years later, Arfynna Shakira Sariman started making music with the hockey stick, dribbling free of opponents and striking the ball past goalkeepers for Crescent Girls' School. Arfynna is now 16, and this season, she led her school to their first win at the Nationals in 14 years when Crescent lifted the 'B' Division title.
"We were considered the weakest batch in Crescent hockey history and to make it all the way to the final and lift the title brings an overwhelming sense of achievement." Arfynna was part of a band at Raffles Girls' Primary School but chose hockey, instead, in Secondary One.
As it turns out, her senior mates and coaches were the ones who wanted her to be in the hockey team after watching her at the CCA (Co-Curricular Activities) tryouts.
"Everyone was raving about the potential in her, and I was truly convinced after watching her play," said teacher-in-charge Rilaini Sapari.
Added her coach Nordin Manaff: "She is pretty soft spoken in school, but Arfynna really opens up and dictates the play when she is on the pitch.
"She's just a special player. The way she holds the stick, her speed and all-rounded hockey sense make her a player of true calibre."
The 1.55m-tall forward admitted that she struggled with the intensity of the game initially and thanked Nordin for pushing her hard with fitness exercises.
"I had to run around the pitch for 10 rounds before sprinting across it for several sets," said Arfynna. "I ran in the morning with my team before school starts and I did additional runs on my own."
With six days of training or matches in a week, one wonders where she finds time for studies.
"My teammates and I will usually catch up on our studies before training starts. We would really encourage and help one another with the lessons that we have missed out on." She was also grateful to her parents, especially her mother who would pick her up after training.
"I'm already a secondary school student but my mother understands how tired I am after training. She will send me home even though she is teaching in another school," said Arfynna. Having a mother as a teacher has helped Arfynna mix studies with sport.
And to future athletes who intend to pick up a sport for the first time, Arfynna has this advice.
"Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try. And time will tell where your efforts will lead you."
This article was first published on September 18, 2014.
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