Coaching ● Aug 21, 2017

Lions and Lionesses Continuing Coaching Journey


Lions and Lionesses Continuing Coaching Journey

Seven current and former National Team players – from both the men’s and women’s teams – embarked on the next step of their coaching journey together with 15 other coaches in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) ‘B’ Coaching Diploma course last Monday.

Though they turned out for the national set-up at different times, Fazrul Nawaz, Isa Halim, Muhammad Ridhuan and Noh Alam Shah are course-mates in the ‘B’ Coaching Diploma course. They are joined by Women’s National Team (WNT) players Ernie Sulastri and Angeline Chua, as well as former WNT captain Shida Shariff.

All seven of them are actively coaching in various capacities. In particular, two-time ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Championship winners Noh Alam Shah (2004 and 2007), Isa Halim (2007 and 2012) and Muhammad Ridhuan (2004 and 2007) are coaches in the Active Cubs Football Academy. Both Shida Shariff and Angeline Chua are with the Women’s National Team coaching set-up – the former an assistant coach with the Under-19 WNT, and the latter coaching the Under-14 WNT.

In recognition of their services to the nation, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) offers subsidies to National Team players who have made significant contributions to Singapore during their playing career. The subsidies go a long way in encouraging the players to continue to be actively engaged in the football scene after they retire as players.

Noh Alam Shah, who holds the honour of being the all-time record goalscorer at the AFF Championship with 17 goals, said: “I have to thank the FA for subsidising the course for us. The fee waiver is an incentive for me to attend the course, but more importantly, the course is an opportunity for me to upgrade myself and get to know the game better. I take a lot of joy and pride in helping to develop the younger generation.”

Shida Shariff expressed similar sentiments, and pointed out the need for more women coaches in Singapore: “I think this is a great opportunity and encouragement (by FAS) for former players to become coaches and give back to future generation of players. Former players not only can coach but also be mentors and role models to those they coach. We can relate to the players and are aware of the challenges faced at the international level.

“We need more female coaches to be involved in football, especially former National Team players who can impart their experience to current and future players. Also, for women’s football, the FIFA and AFC tournament guideline is to have at least one female coaching staff for the (Women’s) National Teams, so increasing the pool of qualified female coaches is crucial.”

Shida, who earned her first international cap for Singapore in 1997 added that for her, the reward she derives from coaching is the satisfaction from developing a player and watching them grow and improve.

This sentiment is echoed by both Alam Shah and Isa Halim, who heads the Bedok Stadium Active Cubs Football Academy.

Coaching is Alam Shah’s way of staying in touch with football – which he describes as being “in [his] genes and blood” – since his retirement at the end of the 2015 S.League season. He spoke about the joy he feels in developing the younger generation, adding that seeing the players under his charge grow into better people and players is “the greatest gift a person can get”.

As for Isa, the affection he has for the children he coaches is evident in the way he speaks of them. When asked what motivates him as a coach, he gushed: “Seeing the kids smile and being appreciated by them as their coach is what keeps me going. In fact, some of them start to take an interest in the S.League and have even come to watch my matches. It can be tiring, especially when I have to coach after a late game the night before, but seeing them having fun makes it worth it.”

Another initiative which has been in place since 2016 is the flexibility to attend make up sessions the next time the same course is organised, should participants miss certain sessions. This arrangement allows active players to respect their commitments to their clubs, while still preparing for a post-playing career at the same time.

Isa Halim, who has 58 international caps, said: “While I only have one S.League match scheduled in the duration of the course, I will still have to fulfill my commitments as a player. Being given this flexibility to make up for the sessions will be good for us players.

“My club (Geylang International FC) and coach have been very understanding of my commitments as a coach. I also appreciate FAS for being very supportive of me preparing for a post-playing career by subsiding the course and providing various opportunities for me. The onus is on us players to take the initiative and approach the FA because there is a platform for players to plan for a post-playing career.”

Fazrul Nawaz, who juggles playing for Tampines Rovers FC and coaching at private academies on weekends, also welcomed the flexibility: “It is a good system for us players who are keen on taking up coaching courses but have club commitments too. I am preparing myself for a post-playing career, and coaching is a way I can give back to Singapore football. I appreciate that the FA is helping to develop us in different ways. It is something for us players to look forward to after we stop playing, and it is good that they are there to support us.”

The 10-day course this August is the first of two modules of the AFC ‘B’ Coaching Diploma course. The coaches will return in November for the second part of the course, which will include theoretical and practical assessments as well as a presentation of their dissertation.