For years footballers from Bendemeer Secondary School (BDMSS) lived in the shadow of their illustrious schoolmates in tchoukball and sepak takraw, but all that changed on Monday at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
In their inaugural appearance in the final of the South Zone C Division Inter School Football Tournament, they clinched a 1-0 victory to topple favourites St Gabriel's Secondary School (SGSS).
SGSS, whose alumni include Indra Sahdan and Hariss Harun, are coached by former Singapore national player Brian Batchelor.
SGSS had beaten BDMSS 6-0 two weeks ago in the South Zone B Division final - which also marked the first time that BDMSS had gone all the way in that category. On Monday, the C Division boys salvaged a big measure of pride for BDMSS.
A poor clearance in the 15th minute saw the ball fall to Muhammad Nazi on the edge of the box, and his sweetly struck half-volley proved enough to settle the tie.
Said Savarimuthu Xavier, the teacher in charge of the BDMSS football team: "I am pleasantly surprised with the development of the team this year.
"I always knew they were good but I did not expect them to win the title."
The school had failed to qualify from the group stages last year.
Said Daniel Juan Fernando, captain of BDMSS' C Division side: "We had a good team this year but we hadn't aimed for the title. We trained very hard this year and had a better mentality. Also, the Secondary 1 players who came in were good, and assimilated well into the team which helped us."
Xavier also traced the turnaround to the fact that his students "were motivated by the success of their schoolmates in other sports, and wanted to be part of the sporting success in BDMSS".
This hunger to excel was acknowledged by SGSS' football teacher-in-charge Ng Tze How.
"They had shown last year they were progressing as an entire team, with the B division team making the quarter-finals, so I can't say I am surprised," he said.
Both BDMSS' B and C Division squads now move on to the Schools National Finals where they will vie with other zonal finalists.
A beaming Xavier said: "It will be our first time in the nationals but we will give it our best shot and see how far we can go."
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