S'pore's cerebral palsy football team wants fans to roar them on
He grew up watching the likes of Fandi Ahmad and Abbas Saad weave magic on the lush green grass at the old National Stadium in the glory days of the Malaysia Cup in 1993 and 1994.
Cerebral Palsy football national captain Khairul Anwar Kasmani, 29, was at the new National Stadium last month supporting the Lions when they faced Japan and Syria in World Cup qualifiers.
Over the next week or so, the Republic Polytechnic student hopes to hear the cheers when his team get on the pitch.
Khairul and his men, silver medallists at the last Asean Para Games in Naypyidaw in 2014, have targeted gold on home soil this time around.
Singapore will host the 8th Asean Para Games from Thursday to Dec 9.
"It will really be a dream come true for us to play at the National Stadium," said Khairul, who has been with the CP national team since its formation in 2009.
"I've watched the Lions at the National Stadium and it was a really good atmosphere."
The CP football tournament at the Games will be modified to suit the players' physical abilities - each team will field between four and seven players at any one time, including the goalkeeper.
Games will consist of two halves of 30 minutes each, and there are quotas for players of differing disabilities on the pitch.
The central defender has come a long way since his days playing street soccer on a basketball court in Jurong East, his childhood neighbourhood.
He started his footballing career representing the Asian Women's Welfare Association in the National Disability League, and then played for a centralised cerebral palsy team under the Singapore Disability Sports Council banner, before the national team was formed in 2009.
"We've all had challenges here and there, but it's how we push ourselves to go through them and emerge stronger," said Khairul, who has played in every position on the pitch before he settled on his current defensive role.
"I forget everything (the challenges) when I play. I love the game and I see the passion in my teammates as well.
"Football has helped us build our discipline, determination and confidence on and off the pitch."
He hopes fans will turn up at the National Stadium to back the team as they battle for Singapore.
He said: "We've trained very hard and we are definitely going to do our best, but we'll need the support of the fans as well."