If you're not delivering in the classroom, then you won't get the chance to deliver on the pitch.
That is the rationale of Roslan Sa'ad, one of six nominees for TNP-S Soocelaraj Award, presented by Soilbuild Group, in recognition of outstanding teacher-coaches.
"The first thing we do in the football CCA is to check with teachers every morning if the students have done their homework," said the 42-year-old, who has been heading the Shuqun Primary School team since 2005.
"If their teacher says 'this boy didn't do his homework', he gets a suspension straight away.
"What I mean by suspension is to have them come to training, but they don't play. Instead, they spend their time studying and finishing up their homework."
For someone who serves as the school's head of department for Physical Education, such an approach is understandable. Values are an important aspect of the team, with Roslan imparting the motto "respect all, fear none".
Such values can be seen off the pitch, with the students always being reminded to take pride in their appearance. They are also required to wear ties on match days.
"I'm teaching them the importance of upholding their image, but I have my own agenda. I don't want them to go running around during recess and wasting their energy," he joked.
He also inculcates a sense of belonging in the players, in order to bring the best out of them.
He said: "I create an identity for them, such as their training jersey, which bears a special logo of the school team, and that gives them something to be proud of. In turn, they'll have the motivation to live up to that identity.
"But when they misbehave, they have to return the jerseys. In turn, when they lose something that they believe in, they'll work extra hard to get back the jersey. It's a win-win situation for everyone."
Roslan also has an AFC 'A' Licence, one of the highest coaching qualifications in Asia, but he is coaching a humble primary school rather than a full-fledged professional team, let alone a developmental side.
It is something that he gets quite a fair bit of stick for, saying: "People think I'm crazy, but I love starting from scratch. There's greater satisfaction to be had when you see your students progress to bigger things."
His approach has reaped dividends, with Shuqun edging out Nanyang Primary 7-6 on penalties in the West Zone's Junior Division, while the school's Senior Division team did well despite losing 1-7 to Kranji Primary.
The school has also been regularly in the top four of not only the West Zone, but also the Nationals over the years.
The students' development is something that Roslan takes a lot of pride in.
"Six students have moved on to the Singapore Sports School, while many more have been plucked by football powerhouses like Hong Kah and Jurongville Secondary," he said.
"It gives a huge sense of achievement to know that you've played a big part in their development in some way."
This article was first published on Nov 22, 2014.
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