Nerves no longer freeze rising son

Nerves no longer freeze rising son
Singapore footballer Hafiz Sujad (right) beats Philippines goalkeeper Jose Paolo Pasqual to bring the ball into the net in the Singapore U-23 versus Philippines U-23 match at Hougang Stadium on 1 December 2013. Singapore beat Philippines 6-0. The match also served as a fundraiser for victims of Typhoon Haiyan.

SINGAPORE- On a decrepit field in Paya Lebar, Abu Sujad barked out instructions to a group of young footballers.

"Alamak, look up before you pass the ball lah," the former Singapore international bellowed.

"Anak (Malay for child), if you shoot like that, the ball will never reach the net."

To many of the kids in the area, Abu Sujad was their first introduction to football, someone who gave them free coaching.

It was ironic that his own son Hafiz would often just sit on the sidelines, content to merely carry cones and bibs for dad.

But after spending many afternoons observing his father put the other kids through their paces, it finally dawned on the six-year- old: Why not make the best use of his time?

"It hit me that he's not just my bapa (Malay for father), he's also a former national player, and I was stupid not to be learning from him," Hafiz, now 23, recalled fondly.

"So I got up, grabbed a pair of boots and joined in the session."

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