Football teacher-coach Zareen instils confidence at Loyang Primary

Loyang's football teacher-coach has an eye for talent and believes in instilling confidence in his charges

"An important value is self worth. We want our students to be confident about themselves, to feel good." - Loyang Primary School teacher Zareen Shariff (above)

He has groomed notable footballers such as Ismail Yunos, Nurullah Hussein and Mahathir Azeman.

Loyang Primary School teacher Zareen Shariff also converted LionsXII and national player Faris Ramli into a footballer, after noticing him in the school's running team.

"I knew that he could run and he's very skilful, so I put him into the football team, and the rest is history," said Zareen, who has been teaching and coaching the school's football team for 16 years.

But, for a coach who's had success polishing raw gems, winning is not everything for the 41-year-old.

He plays younger boys against older opponents even if it means reducing their chances of winning, simply to give them the experience.

"To me, it's about the exposure. If you play with bigger boys, you get better. So later when you play with students your age, you will have an edge," said Zareen, who has been nominated for The New Paper's S Soocelaraj Award, which honours the best teacher-coaches in Singapore.

It helps that he keeps in touch with his ex-students such as Faris, as they go back to school and play friendly games with his youngsters.

Zareen makes it his priority to give his young pupils confidence through training and preparation.

"An important value is self-worth. We want our students to be confident about themselves, to feel good. I must be fair to my pupils, I make sure they go to tournaments well prepared," he said.

That is why he recruits Primary 1 and 2 boys, to give the future school players exposure early.

Zareen also holds optional pre-season trainings during the holidays, which are well attended because of the support from many of the parents.


"I'm lucky because of the understanding I have with the parents. I am in touch with them, and they know that the children are in good hands," said the school's subject head of Malay language.

Under Zareen's guidance, the school won their first Schools National title in 2005, and again in 2006. Since then, the Loyang team have remained a fixture in the East Zone semi-finals and finals.

This year, the junior team finished runners-up to Tanjong Katong Primary School in the National finals.

Zareen's rapport with his students and their parents extends beyond just school and football.

Earlier this year, he pooled some $200 from fellow teachers for one of his Primary 5 footballers to play in the Gothia Cup in Sweden, and also sent the student off at the airport.

"It's not about the money. If our students can represent Singapore, we will provide whatever support we can," he said.

Iskandar Zainalludin, the subject head of PE and CCA, said of Zareen: "The boys under his charge are well disciplined and have resilience. All of them have good attitude which athletes should possess."

"As Zareen is a subject head, he doesn't have to take a CCA. But he is stubbornly committed to the sport and to the boys."

Zareen insists that while he is handling both roles well, he will not give up coaching.

"As long as I am still healthy and I can do the job, let me do it," he said.

"I don't see it as a burden, it is something that I like. Because when I see my boys, whatever stress that I have is gone."

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How Taylor Swift dethroned Kim Kardashian to be Queen of Instagram

Bestselling albums, Forbes' list, awards, Instagram queen - and she's coming to S'pore next month
MUG SQUAD: (Above, from left) Hailee Steinfeld, Cara Delevingne, Selena Gomez, Taylor Swift, Serayah McNeill, Lily Aldridge and Gigi Hadid.

Taylor Swift is the name on everyone's lips these days and her star just keeps on rising.

She's the industry's darling du jour, having released last year's top-selling album 1989 and achieved global fame that renders her an untouchable powerhouse.

The 25-year-old multi-Grammy-winning artist is the youngest celebrity to make Forbes' 100 Most Powerful Women list and she is 2015's highest-earning musician, raking in roughly US$1 million (S$1.39 million) a day.

Swift was the big winner at this year's MTV Video Music Awards, with four trophies, and she leads the nominations for next month's American Music Awards, with six nods.

Even the fashion industry wants her.

Swift will host next year's Met Gala, together with British actor Idris Elba, Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour and Apple chief design officer Jonathan Ive.

As if that isn't enough, the social media phenomenon became the most followed celebrity on Instagram this month with 51.6 million followers, dethroning US reality TV star and selfie queen Kim Kardashian, who has 49.5 million followers.

US diva Beyonce is third, with 48.4 million followers.

Her too-perfect-to-be-true image has, not surprisingly, invited detractors.

US talk show host Wendy Williams recently called Swift out on her "sneaky" tactics and compared her to the openly sexy Beyonce and Kardashian.

Williams dissed on her show: "She's got her girl army hypnotised to think she's the bee's knees... She's trying to trick us into thinking she's a good woman because she bakes and cooks and it's actually working right now on Instagram.

"For Kim and Beyonce, if you weren't so obvious about your thing and a little more covert, you two will be back on top of Instagram, but for right now, it's all about Taylor Swift."

But Swift, who is on her 1989 world tour, which will see her return to Singapore for two sold-out shows on Nov 7 and 8 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, is taking none of this attention for granted.

She recently told Vogue Australia: "The public could change their minds about me tomorrow.

"Things are good right now, but I'm never going to be stupid, foolish or ignorant enough to think I have control over the public. All I can control is making good music.

"I am so lucky that people seem to like me right now, but in no way, shape or form is it a permanent thing. And I think being aware of that is what keeps you on the game."

She'll take a break after she finishes her tour in Australia in December, "to give people a breather from me".

In the meantime, she has almost everyone eating out of her hand - both in the real and online world.

Here's how she became the queen of Instagram:


Swift proudly shows off her ever-growing posse of ultra-inspirational celebrity friends, most of whom were in her star-studded Bad Blood music video.

Think pool parties with model Gigi Hadid, pop-rock trio Haim and actress Serayah McNeill. Or birthday parties with US rock act Paramore's Hayley Williams and actress Hailee Steinfeld.

During her concerts, US rockers Mick Jagger and Steven Tyler, US singer Justin Timberlake and even US talk show host Ellen DeGeneres have jumped at the chance to share the stage with her as special guests.

Thanks to Swift, #squadgoals has become a thing, with US host and E! executive producer Ryan Seacrest pitching a sitcom with that title.

She told GQ magazine: "I honestly think my lack of female friendships in high school and middle school is why my female friendships are so important now.

"Because I always wanted them. It was just hard for me to have friends."

She added to Vogue Australia: "My friendship group is one of my favourite things about my life right now.

"Our friends really have each others' backs. It's the first time in my life that I've had anything strong like that in the friendship department."

Swift's close pal, US singer Selena Gomez, 23, said of Swift in a recent Flare magazine interview: "A bunch of women I look up to and admire are supporting one another and Taylor has such a beautiful way of bringing people together.

"That was good for me, because the more I started working, the more uncomfortable I was. I wouldn't trust people and Taylor has a way of stripping down everything and just getting down to being human. I love that."

Swift with Calvin Harris. PHOTO: INSTAGRAM


Swift's short-lived romances with famous dudes like Harry Styles, Jake Gyllenhaal and John Mayer have been fodder for gossip.

But the person with whom she has been linked since February represents possibly one of her longest relationships to date. More importantly - to her fans, anyway - the Swifties approve.

One of her most-liked photos is the one where her Scottish DJ-producer boyfriend Calvin Harris, 31, piggybacks her during an Independence Day party with friends.

The image chalked up 2.5m "hearts" or likes.

Although Swift has not referenced Harris directly in interviews, he told UK's KISS FM back in July: "You know, it's not like every single time we go out we get a photograph taken of us. That's not the case. But for me, though, it could be a lot worse and I'd still be like insanely happy with her so I'm good with it."

Swift with with Meredith, one of her two cats. PHOTO: INSTAGRAM


Swift's Instagram feed can probably give @cats_of_instagram a run for its money when it comes to posting photos of furry felines.

Her two Scottish Folds, Meredith and Olivia, make frequent appearances and the cat ladies among her fans are obsessed.

Kitty cuddles and snuggle fests, silly animal antics and general cat cuteness - Swifties cannot help but virtually coo at these purr-fect pictures.

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