Our local football scene has always been a majority of Malay players, but Yoke Nam Chinese primary school is breaking the stereotype with their school football team.
The team will be making their debut in the under-12 Federal Territory Kuala Lumpur Primary School Football (MSSWPKL) tournament in two weeks time.
Azmeel Firdaus, their coach knew he had an uphill task as Yoke Nam has never had a football team before, this means he will be leading a team with zero experience to compete against powerhouses like the Bukit Jalil National School and 13 other schools for the Bangsar Zone Championship.
“Most of them only started playing football a year ago so it’s a big challenge for me to get them to play good football or even master the basic stuff like tactics and formation,” he said. Azmeel also added that he is not focusing on what their chances are playing against national schools, he just wants them to have fun and feel what’s it like to play in a tournament since this is the first time Yoke Nam is going for MSSWPKL.
Yoke Nam’s decision to participate this year’s game surprised many, particularly those who sit on the all-Malay organizing committee since the competition is virtually dominated by Malay national schools.
Ms. Lim, the teacher who is in charge of managing the team shared a comical event that took place during a meeting with the committee members. She said that the panel initially thought Yoke Nam wasn’t serious and many did not believe that the school had a football team.
They asked, “Yoke Nam actually have a football team?” Ms. Lim replied with “Yes we do and we want to participate,” even when Ms. Lim said yes, they still kept asking “You sure you want to participate?”
The children are inspired by Ola Bola, the award-winning fictional movie based on the story of the only Malaysian national football team that qualified for the Moscow Olympics in 1980 to start playing football. In fact, the movie about Malaysia’s multiracial football team helped lay the foundation for Yoke Nam’s football team, it inspired the school’s parent-teacher association head, Casey Tan, to suggest that the school step out of its comfort zone and accommodate the growing interest in football among its students.
Many parents were very supportive of the idea and started to chip in and wanted to contribute.
Yoke Nam’s bold decision to break the sports race stereotypes by participating in a sport dominated by Malays has inspired other Chinese schools nearby to set up their very own football team, something that was unheard of in the past.
Azmeel could not have been prouder as this is very positive because he felt that Yoke Nam’s participation in the MSSWPKL tournament could be the first step towards breaking the barrier that has prevented the world’s most loved sport from unifying Malaysians.
This would be a great eye-opener for a lot of Chinese or Indian schools, as it could also help open the idea of national schools selecting more Chinese players in the future.
Good luck to Yoke Nam primary school at the upcoming tournament, have a great time and learn loads more and do us Malaysians proud!