SEA Games football coach dedicates matches to TKPS pupils

SEA Games football coach dedicates matches to TKPS pupils
GIVING SUPPORT: The Singapore SEA Games football team during their visit to Tanjong Katong Primary School yesterday afternoon to pay respects to the victims of the Sabah earthquake. With them are Jayden Francis (in crutches), 12, Chaityak Khatwani (in stripes), 12, and Tristan So Kwan Wing (in orange), 12. Jayden was one of the pupils who went on the trip to Sabah with the school.

They knew the boy as a passionate young pupil who aspired to join the national football team one day.

But Ameer Ryyan Mohd Adeed Sanjay, 13, will never have a chance to live to his potential as he died last Friday during the earthquake in Sabah.

National footballer Sahil Suhaimi and Under-23 coach Aide Iskandar paid tribute to him yesterday afternoon when they visited Tanjong Katong Primary School (TKPS) with 37 fellow national football team players and officials to show their support.

Ameer's death was personal to coach Aide, who like the others wore a T-shirt that bore the words "We are with you TKPS".

Said Aide: "Ameer was like a younger brother to my eldest son (Andre), and they both played together in (Fandi Ahmad's) F-17 Academy.

"We were incredibly saddened when we received the news."

Aide was there with his three children, including his daughter, Estee Ariqa, 10.

Aide's older son, Andre Shawqi, 14, is an alumnus of TKPS and had helped recruit Ameer into the TKPS school team. His younger son, Adiel Eshqi, 11, is in Primary 5 at TKPS.

"My sons are from that school and know some of the victims. It has definitely been testing for us," said Aide.

"It is definitely a very sad affair. It could have been my kids."

Said Aide, on meeting some of the survivors: "To see them alive and back makes me feel slightly better for their families, but I still grieve for those who lost their loved ones."

He said that it was a "team decision" to visit the school yesterday.

"As Singaporeans, we must be there for one another during all times - this is our national spirit. We visit, as a team, to assure the families that they have our support."

SUPPORT

Speaking as a parent, Aide said: "For outings that my children may be involved in, I will discuss with my wife, assess the safety issues and carry out risk assessments on the places they will be going to."

He also believes that the school is handling it to its best level that it can, and appreciates the high level of support from parents who came down.

Striker Sahil said he was sad to return to his alma mater in such tragic circumstances but wanted to show his support for the school.

Said Sahil, a former TKPS student: "I was sad when I found out about the tragedy... and I had to double check if it was really my alma mater.

"I want to do all I can to help the school and the victims affected. Today, I am really (at a) loss for words."

"Ameer would play football with my nephews occasionally, and it is very sad to see such a young life being cut short of its full potential."

Although he did not know the boy personally, he remembered Ameer having potential as a footballer.

"He had good basic skills and I could see that he had passion, it is a shame he could not live out his aspirations," said Sahil.

Sahil, who played a big part in helping the LionsXII win the Malaysian FA Cup recently, said he had hoped to return to the school grounds on a happier occasion. He also visited two students from TKPS at KK Women's and Children's Hospital yesterday morning to help cheer them up. The students were not identified to the media.

"I got the message from one of the students' father last night," Sahil said.

"I immediately informed coach Aide and my team manager about my intentions to go.

"I felt that if I could make him (the father) happy with my visit, then I had to go. I was glad to bring a smile to his face.

"I just wanted to give them some moral support, to wish for their speedy recovery and to let them know everything will be all right."

The national footballer recently scored two goals against Kelantan to help the LionsXII win the Malaysian FA Cup, making them the first foreign team to win the competition.

He also scored a goal in the SEA Games match against Cambodia on Monday, helping the team to a 3-1 win to keep alive their hopes of making the semi-final.

FOR THE CHILDREN

Regarding the team's progress in the ongoing SEA Games, Aide said: "Everything we do as a team from now on will be for these children.

"We will play against Indonesia (in our upcoming match) with them in our hearts and minds."

Of the game against Cambodia, Aide said: "Our boys fought for every ball.

"I'm sure this (tragedy) made them even more hungry to go out and win in future matches, to honour the victims and survivors through our hard work and dedication."

"I believe that we played for them yesterday (Monday). It spurred us on, we really wanted to win for them. As fellow Singaporeans, we hope to do our small part.

Al-Qaasimy Rahman, 23, captain of the SEA Games football team, also told TNP: "It is not just us (the national football team) who want to give moral support to those affected by this tragedy, but we are sure that the whole nation is supporting them as well."

tnp@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on June 10, 2015.
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