S.League: Beating cancer is his biggest win

When Amin Nasir leads Hougang United out this season, it will not be just about his first full season as an S.League coach.

Rather, the 45-year-old former Singapore international defender will be celebrating life, after successfully battling his way back to fitness from fourth-stage colon cancer.

"Football has really helped me a lot," said Amin, who was first diagnosed with the deadly disease in late 2012.

Despite that, Hougang took him in as a youth coach early last year, and subsequently promoted him to first-team coach last September.

The older brother of former national captain Nazri Nasir, Amin had toggled between the Cheetahs and chemotherapy.

He added: "Football did help me take my mind off thinking negatively, and so many people from the football fraternity - coaches, players, former team-mates, journalists, and kids from the National Football Academy - visited me. That gave me strength and determination to fight."

Crying and choking as he recounted the harrowing experience, it was not easy for an emotional Amin to tell his story.

But he agreed to share it with The New Paper, both to encourage people facing similar difficulties and to thank those who have supported him.

Amin first experienced sharp pain in his abdomen and it gradually worsened. While he tried to bear with the discomfort, he knew the situation was serious when he began passing out blood.

After some tests, doctors confirmed he had colon cancer.

"It was very difficult for me to accept the news because I'm a family man and this could have gone either way," he said.

"For the first month, it was very tough and I felt very down but I want to thank God, my family, friends and the Hougang United management for their support.

"I'm very grateful to Hougang chairman Bill Ng for his human touch in keeping me on the payroll even though I was not well."

Amin, whose weight had plunged from 88kg to 70kg, subsequently went for eight rounds of chemotherapy and a successful operation to remove part of his colon.

His cancer is now in remission.

Ng said: "How could we simply discard someone when he is going through the darkest part of his life?

HEARTLAND CLUB

"Hougang United are a heartland club. We've always touched our hearts and checked ourselves when making decisions. We are all where we are because someone gave us a chance.

"Most importantly, the one getting the chance appreciates it and is also paying it forward to others.

"This gives Hougang United and football greater meaning than winning championships."

Hougang captain Fadhil Salim said: "Even when he (Amin) was sick, he would be at training. It was a tough time, but he has been an inspiration with his dedication and determination.

"We are all very happy that our coach is fit and healthy now."

Amin also remembers the late Adrian Dhanaraj, the 29-year-old former international midfielder who succumbed to blood cancer last September.

He said: "He rang me up and told me, 'I can fight this, so can you', and that made me stronger.

"I was so sad when he passed away, but I still pray for him every day.

"These things really make me realise we have got to make the most of our lives.

davidlee@sph.com.sg

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