Kadir helps SJI end drought
The long wait is over.
Former football powerhouses St Joseph's Institution (SJI) yesterday won their first piece of silverware in 30 years.
In the boys' B Division South Zone final at Safra Tampines, the SJI team, led by former Singapore international Kadir Yahaya, struck late in extra time to beat Queensway Secondary School 1-0 in a close encounter.
After surviving a first-half Queensway onslaught, in which they struck the woodwork three times, SJI settled down and played better football in the second half, although neither side achieved a breakthrough in 80 minutes of regulation time.
The decisive moment came five minutes before the end of the second period of extra time, when Nasrul Matin strode down the right flank before squaring for Jared Ng to slot home the winner.
The title win came just three years after they had revived their football programme, which was dropped in 2000.
Bernard Teo, SJI's teacher-in-charge for football, said: "It was all about hard work today.
"The boys were very determined and I'm happy it paid off for them.
"These players are from our first batch of footballers since the football programme was resumed in 2012.
"As an old boy, I remember the glory days in the '70s, for example in 1973, when we had teams in both the A and C Division finals on the same day playing at Jalan Besar, so it feels good for the boys to win another football title after so long.
"There had been a lot of clamour from the old boys to bring football back and, after we did, there has been a lot of support and encouragement from our wonderful parents' support group."
Teo paid tribute to coach Kadir, who also led the 2010 Youth Olympic team to a bronze medal.
He said: "Kadir's love to develop raw talent is obvious for all to see.
"He has been fantastic for us, and he has been able to bring the best out of our boys, who in turn are willing to work, run and play according to Kadir's instructions.
"He is a good coach, focusing not just on footballing skills, but also character development, good values and sportsmanship."
Kadir could not be reached for comment but, in an earlier interview, he said of his philosophy when it comes to coaching young footballers: "I don't emphasise winning. I just tell them to play to the best of their abilities, and the results will come."
SJI's B Division football team are through to the Schools Nationals Championships, to be held later this month.
Teo said: "It will be tough because there are many good teams from Hong Kah, St Patrick's and Singapore Sports School. We hope to go further than the quarter-finals, which this same batch reached in 2013 in the C Division."