Dollah Kassim Award: Aizal overcomes adversity through hard work
Aizal could not keep up when he just joined the NFA, but that's in the past
When Aizal Murhamdani Ahmad made the step-up from Home United's youth team to the National Football Academy (NFA) this year, it was anything but a breeze.
Training was tougher. His new teammates were older and stronger. Such a change in environment has been known to make - or break - a player.
Thankfully, the scrawny 16-year-old did not give up. Instead, he identified his weaknesses and worked on them to establish himself at the NFA.
Aizal certainly has potential.
Playing as an attacking midfielder, he scored a goal for Home United's youth team last year when they made headlines by beating the Junior Soccer School and League (JSSL) Elite team in the U-15 Boys' final of the JSSL Singapore International 7s.
NFA Under-16 coach Fadzuhasny Juraimi was impressed by him, and invited him to train with the national set-up, before offering him a place in the team.
But Aizal's undoubted talent would have counted for nothing had he not pushed himself further.
He said: "When I first came in, I could not keep up with the older boys, and I learnt that I had to be stronger and wiser when it came to improving as a player.
"Training at the NFA is very intensive and taken very seriously, and my teammates spur me on to work even harder."
I could not keep up with the older boys... I learnt that I had to be stronger and wiser when it came to improving as a player.NFA U-16 midfielder Aizal Murhamdani Ahmad, who improved greatly after working on his weaknesses
Aizal, who is 1.68m tall, has been building on his physical strength and muscle mass.
As he improved on his physique and game play, he became a regular in the first team halfway through the season.
Described by coach Fadzuhasny as "a skilful player with a high work ethic and good technical skills", Aizal has made vast improvements to put himself on a par with the rest.
Known to be reserved, the teen said that football has allowed him to express himself.
He said: "The field definitely brings out a different side to me. I am more vocal when I play because I believe that communication is number one in the team."
On his ambitions, he said: "Given the chance, I would want to play for an overseas team. Maybe even in Germany."
The TNP Dollah Kassim Award nomination might just offer him a glimpse of that.
Besides a trophy, the award winner also gets a training stint with an overseas club.
For now, Aizal is just thankful for the nomination.
He said: "I really think that most of my teammates in the squad are much better than me, but I am really thankful."
- Name: Aizal Murhamdani Ahmad
- Team: NFA U-16
- Position: Attacking midfielder
- Date of birth: March 26, 2001
- Height: 1.68m
- Weight: 56kg
- Favourite team: Chelsea
- Favourite player: Eden Hazard