Para Games footballer is living the dream
For many, football is a spectator sport. A leisure pursuit or pastime at best.
For Suhaimi Sudar, the Beautiful Game changed his life.
Born with the neurological disorder cerebral palsy (CP), the 26-year-old grew up in awe of football greats like local legend Fandi Ahmad and Ryan Giggs from his beloved Manchester United. It was after reading about the exploits of the national CP football team during 2013 tournament in Abu Dhabi that Suhaimi felt inspired. He soon joined the team coached by Mohamed Zainudeen.
Since then, the import and transhipment executive has been the team's left-back and will feature at the 8th Asean Para Games here in Singapore.
He has never looked back.
Speaking to The New Paper, Suhaimi said: "I've been playing football since I was seven. Like any other guy, I enjoy football and I enjoy watching it.
"It's always been a dream to play competitively, so when I found out about this team, it was like a dream come true – it allowed me to pursue my passion and my dreams."
But the team has provided more than an outlet for Suhaimi's competitive streak.
"We are a close-knit team and I've seen for myself how I've grown in this team because of my teammates.
"Through playing football together, it's given them a new lease of life and I see that and embrace it."
Singapore, who claimed silver at the last year's Para Games in Naypyidaw, will open their campaign against Indonesia at the National Stadium on Wednesday (Dec 3) morning.
Expectations are high with the Games on home soil.
Suhaimi is hoping the team will convert the pressure of playing before their loved ones into a source of motivation.
He said: "Knowing that our friends and family will come and support us will give us the extra edge.
"We're excited about playing at the National Stadium and we're really looking forward to it.
"I'm really looking forward to singing the national anthem in front of Singaporeans. Of course, we're also looking forward to the game but I think singing the national anthem before the game will trigger a lot of emotions in me.
"We've been playing overseas and now that I'm playing at home, I'm sure the feeling will be much greater."
Cerebral Palsy Football
Dec 3 to 9
Get the full schedule of CP football games here.
Matches will be available to view on Toggle and the Sport Singapore YouTube page