Bowen Secondary captain Shaahidah helps juniors to title
After shoot-out loss, Shaahidah helps juniors taste glory
They were the defending champions, and it looked as if no one could stop Bowen Secondary School's march into the Schools National B girls' football final, as they scored 35 goals and conceded none en route to the title decider.
But captain Shaahidah Zulkifli and her team suffered heartbreak in the final in April, when they lost 3-1 on penalties to Queensway Secondary School after a 0-0 draw.
"We were very disappointed, because we had played well in all our matches," Shaahidah (above) told The New Paper recently.
"It was really just bad luck that we lost on penalties, and I guess that's part of the game."
Though heartbroken, Shaahidah was determined to ensure that the loss did not affect their juniors, who were preparing for the C girls' competition then.
So, she organised several activities to boost their morale.
"We made cards for them in an attempt to motivate the players, and our teachers made them a montage as well," said the 16-year-old striker, who is also with the national Under-19 women's team.
"Most importantly, we reminded them to have faith in themselves and play their best."
The effort paid off, as the C girls claimed the title by thumping Greenview Secondary 5-1 in the final in late August.
Smiling brightly, Shaahidah said: "I'm so glad they won!"
Her mother had initially been against her involvement in the "rough" sport, but relented after watching how good she was on the pitch.
Bowen's teacher-in-charge of football, Ubrina Tock, praised Shaahidah for being a "responsible captain who does more than what is required".
Said Tock: "Shaahidah used to be very shy, which is why she was initially hesitant to take up the captain's role.
"But she consciously made the effort to do well, and has really lived up to her leadership potential.
"She's also a very steady and dependable player."
While Shaahidah is eager to avenge her school's loss to Queenstown, whether or not the Secondary 4 student will get to do so depends on how she fares in the ongoing GCE N levels.
"If I do well enough in my N Levels, then I can go straight to a polytechnic instead of taking the O levels in Secondary 5," she said.
"But I want to come back and play with my team one more time, and try to win the B Division title back."
Having taken a break from football to prepare for her examinations, Shaahidah is itching to get back onto the pitch.
"It's only been a few weeks," she said, grinning sheepishly. "But I just feel like… I need to play football."