“I just left the Police Sports Association and I’m currently looking for another football club to play for. Right now, I coach football full-time. I coach youths between the ages of six and 10.

I enjoy shaping their attitudes and seeing them develop not only as players, but as people as well. For example, some kids can be rude to their helpers, so I’ll pull them aside and explain that it isn’t nice to treat people like that. To be a footballer, you have to respect people, so I’d get them to apologise.

I started playing soccer when I was in primary school. When I went to ITE, a coach saw me kicking the ball, and asked me to play in a tournament the next day. I didn’t have any training, so it was quite bad *laughs*. After that day, I started training like crazy and grew to love the sport.

I was part of the Young Women’s Team in the past, but I was forced to stop playing because I tore my ACL. It affected me a lot because football helped a lot with my anger and stress management as a teenager. I remember breaking down three months into rehab because it got really frustrating.

It was depressing and I almost gave up football, but my love for the sport was and still is crazy. I endured six months of rehab at the Football Association of Singapore and was eventually cleared to play. From that point, I had to work really hard to get back to that competitive level that I was at.

Injuries aside, it’s so hard to keep that fire for soccer burning in Singapore. The system is so bad here; it’s more of a money-making business. If I had the power? I will make sure clubs prioritise developing players over making profits, and I will build enough pitches so that clubs don’t have to pay to train.

These days, kids also have to juggle school with soccer practice outside school. To make it more cohesive and enjoyable for them, I think schools nationwide should register students interested in soccer to train with real football clubs. It makes talent scouting easier too.” – Azu, 26

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