National Team - Lions ● Nov 25, 2018
Meet the Lions’ backroom staff for 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup
SINGAPORE, 25 NOVEMBER 2018 – The ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup 2018 is well underway and Singapore plays its last group stage match tonight. Earlier, the coaches for the tournament were introduced, but the Lions have also been supported by eight other officials on this month-long journey.
In the second of this two-part series, we introduce you to the backroom staff, including the medical team for the Lions.
Eric Ong – Team Manager
A long-time fan of the Lions, Eric was adamant that his return to the FAS would be in a capacity that sees him more involved in the National Team. Having had two previous stints with the FAS marketing and communications department that spanned a total of seven years, Eric returned as the Head, National Teams and National Team Manager this March.
As team manager, Eric takes a hands-on approach and makes it a point to connect with the players on an individual level to better understand them. While coaches take charge of the team’s on-pitch performance, Eric’s role is to ensure that the team – including the officials – have everything they need to perform at their best. From sorting out meals to accommodation to training facilities, he takes care of all the little details so that the team is able to concentrate on their respective tasks.
Eric has watched every AFF Championship game that Singapore has ever played since their first involvement in 1996 and in 2007, he took on a larger responsibility as the team’s media officer. This year is Eric’s first AFF Championship as the Lions’ team manager.
Omar Mohd – Equipment officer
As the team’s equipment officer, Omar is the man to go to for the players’ kits. From the players’ jersey sizes to the way they like to have their socks cut, the 60-year-old has all the details at the back of his hand. Omar also manages the large volume of inventory that comes in annually.
In 2004, Fandi – whom Omar was introduced to by his former classmate, the late Nasir Jalil – asked him to assist Kadir Yahya with the National Football Academy (now FAS Football Academy) Under-15s. Despite juggling his jobs as a dispatch rider and air conditioner technician, the avid football fan took up the role without hesitation.
In 2006, he joined the FAS full-time as an equipment officer for the National Teams, and was a part of the AFF Championship winning squads in 2007 and 2012.
Chia Pui San – Media Officer
As the team’s media officer, Pui San serves as the liaison between the press and the players as well as officials. She helps to coordinate and oversee interview requests as well as press conferences for the team.
The 25-year-old is part of a capable team of four, producing content on Lions’ Suzuki Cup journey. Pui San, who joined the FAS as a communications executive in 2016 is relishing her role in her maiden AFF Championship campaign.
Nurhafizah Abu Sujad – Physiotherapist
Affectionately referred to as “Kak” (Malay for sister) by the players, Nurhafizah – or “Fizah” for short – takes charge of the players’ well-being and health, ensuring they are in top form both on and off the pitch. Heading the medical team in the National Team set-up, Fizah acts as a link between the players and coaches by conveying information about the players’ health to help coaches make more informed decisions.
As the head physiotherapist, Fizah diagnoses and treats injuries, and refers the players to doctors where necessary. She also looks after the players’ nutrition, especially during centralised training where she provides her expert opinion on the players’ dietary needs.
Surrounded by family members who are actively involved in sports, like her brother Hafiz Sujad, who plays for Tampines Rovers FC, it was perhaps inevitable that the former national netball player would choose to specialise in sports physiotherapy. While she started out as a physiotherapist in a hospital, it was not long before Fizah found herself at the Singapore Sports Council (now Sport Singapore), where she worked in sports such as rugby, netball as well as football. She joined the FAS and the National Team set-up in 2012, and was part of the Lions’ AFF Championship triumph that year.
Nasruldin Baharuddin – Senior sports trainer
Work for Nasruldin starts early in the morning when he records the players’ weights and prepares vitamin drinks for them. His day ends late, after massaging away the players’ aches to aid in their recovery. His key responsibility as a sports trainer is in acute injury management for the players, but “Nas” also assists them in sports taping, managing their recovery after games and training, and with the physiotherapist during treatment.
Nasruldin’s path as a sports trainer began in 2004 when he took up the related courses offered by Singapore Sports Council. He then started off as a part-time sports trainer with Balestier Khalsa for six years, juggling it with his full-time job as a technician. After stints at Home United and Warriors, the former National Football League player joined the FAS as a full-time sports trainer in 2013.
The father of two, who also holds an AFC “B” Coaching Certificate, also helps out with the goalkeeper coach with goalkeeper training. This is Nasruldin’s third AFF Championship with the National Team.
Muklis Sawit – Sports trainer
The newest addition to the medical team for the AFF Championship is Muklis, who joined the FAS in 2013 as a part-time sports trainer in the youth teams. His role closely mirrors his fellow sports trainer Nasruldin. He was first involved in the 2013 Merdeka Cup with the Under-23 National Team and assisted them at the 2013 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games. He later took on a larger role at the 2015 and 2017 SEA Games.
Muklis’ varied experience spans being a technician to a pharmacist in Vietnam, to working as a therapist assistant in a local hospital. However, his passion for football never wavered, having started out as a die-hard fan of Tanjong Pagar United in the early days of the S.League (now Singapore Premier League). He took up the FAS Preliminary Coaching Course, and through his connections with the Liverpool fan club, Muklis also had the opportunity to go to the United Kingdom to take the English FA Level 1 Coaching Course in 2005.
He helped out with the Albirex Soccer School for two years but upon completion of the sports trainer course in Sports Medicine Australia in 2012, has focused on his role as a sports trainer with the national youth teams and now the National Team. This is Muklis’ first year being involved in the AFF Championship.
Gurnaya Singh – Masseur
Gurnaya, better known as “Bansi” to the team, has dedicated almost a third of his life to local football after starting out as a team manager in Jubilee Sports Association in 1981, which competed in the FAS National Football League. In 1996, he took up a sports trainer course offered by Singapore Sports Council to take on a more hands-on approach to the game.
Having been with the FAS from 2003 to 2007 as a sports trainer and masseur for the national youth teams, Bansi saw many of the current national players progress through the ranks – a fact evident from his close relationship with them. The players are the key reason for his return to the FAS in 2012, where he assisted with the LionsXII as well as the various National Teams.
As a masseur, he plays an essential role in the players’ recovery, working away their kinks and knots after hard training sessions to ensure they are ready for another day of work. The jovial 66-year-old has been involved in four AFF Championship campaigns, including this year’s edition.
Mohd Faizul – Sports scientist
As the lead sports scientist for the Lions, Faizul looks after the team’s overall physiological performances by utilising the latest technologies and best practices to quantify the effects of training on the players. One of Faizul’s main roles is to monitor the players’ hydration and player load as that is crucial in ensuring that they are at their best during training and games. The data is shared with the players and coaches to further enhance their training and understanding of sports science.
Faizul was previously with the Singapore Sports Institute from 2006 to 2012, where he also assisted with football. The adjunct lecturer at International Sports Academy and Edith Cowan University prefers to work with team sports, citing its unique challenges as a draw over individual sports. His experience in team sports also includes his time in Singapore Rugby Union as a senior strength coach from 2013 to 2015.
A tennis coach in his free time, Faizul joined the FAS on a part-time basis in 2015 to devise the sport science capabilities for the national teams – including the youth teams – as well as the Singapore Premier League clubs. This is Faizul’s second time being involved in the National Team’s preparations for the AFF Championship.