By Eddie Ridzwan
While some of his compatriots have left for clubs in Europe, 17-year-old Mahathir Azeman will embark on a 5-month stint with the U-17 team of Boavista Sport Club. Mahathir’s coach, Fabio Da Silva spoke to Goal.com about the young boy.
“I’ve been following [the progress of] Mahathir for four years," said Fabio da Silva.
"As a coach, I have made some judgements and believe that despite his age, Mahathir shows commitment, discpline, hardwork, desire and maturity.
“In fact, his desire to experience football beyond his native country, was exactly what I had desired for when I was young. With the good and commendable qualities that he has displayed, I felt he deserved this totally.
“Siglap [Secondary School] has shown tremendous support for this whole plan and talks of this move have been in discussion for a period of time but was only finalised last month. There will be teachers who will be in contact with him and sending him work online to help him. I want to thank the school, the teachers and principal for allowing this to happen."
Da Silva has prepared his young disciple for a challenge away from home, as he added: “I have talked to him (Mahathir) about focusing on his dreams [of playing football professionally]. I believe that by focusing on what you want will help you to overcome all the problems that you face. The desire to fulfill that dream will give you strength [to overcome problems]."
The former Jurong FC player also stated that if the five months were fruitful, Boavista are prepared to offer a one-year contract for the following season to Mahathir. Fabio also believes that this would help open doors for future development of young players, such as a partnership between Boavista and Siglap Secondary School.
“Brazil is the school of soccer and what I see in him [mentally and in playing style], will allow him to instantly match with the Brazillians over there," said the coach.
"In Brazil, everything is about soccer. Everyone knows the sports and loves it, even my ringtone is the Brazillian samba!” Fabio said, as his phone aptly rang.
Speaking to Goal.com, the player himself expressed his delight at moving abroad.
“I’m definitely excited and looking forward to go to Brazil," said an ecstatic Mahathir, who also has picked up a few Portugese phrases from his coach.
"It will be a different environment and setting but I am definitely looking forward to it,”
Mahathir will leave Singapore on Saturday at 9p.m, via Emirates Airline flight EK355.