Nur Alam Shah's (not to be confused with Noh Alam Shah; ex-Singapore international), mission in the past as a former Woodlands Wellington player in the S-League (now renamed Singapore Premier League) was to help his team win. In the present his mission was to help his son win over an illness that was life-threatening. Alas for Alam Shah it wasn’t to be as heart-attack put a premature end to his life and fight on Friday.
The man who plied his trade in Singapore’s top flight in the early 2000s had set a target of raising at least $120,000 at fundraising site Give.asia, so that his son, Royyan, could undergo surgery to combat his illness. Royyan suffered from Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) - a rare heart defect that affects normal blood flow through the heart. Then again this wasn’t the first time Alam Shah’s resolve was severely tested. His five-month-old daughter in 2008 had fallen prey to the same illness but instead of feeling downcast, it only added to his determination to see it through that his son does not suffer the same fate.
Additionally what added to Alam Shah’s heroic efforts was the fact that he was the sole breadwinner for his family which included his wife and two other children. But then again this is a man of noble deeds; friends and family of his remember the ex-footballer as a passionate and resolute man who devoted his time not only to family but also to help young kids.
His contributions to football too were a reflection of the man he was. He started the non-profit Combine Schools Football Club last year with the aim of providing free football coaching to kids. Former Singapore international Ali Imran Lomri's son was one of many youngsters who benefited from the programme - which caters to about 90 kids between the ages of 12 and 17. The young footballers play on Sundays at West Spring Secondary School near Bukit Panjang.
“He always told me that we cannot just receive help, but instead try to do what we can to help others as well. He was very passionate about football and coaching so he spent his Sundays to coach children without charging anyone. He would even fork out his own money to send the children for tournaments,” explained Madam Azean, Alam Shah’s wife.
At a time, where footballers are known more their errant ways and scandal-ridden lifestyle. Alam Shah’ story serves to remind us that there are still noble characters left in the game. Footballers who are truly passionate about the game and want to spread positivity around the world. Alam Shah deserves a heroic status; his name should be enshrined in Singapore’s footballing annals. His story to be told and used as an inspiration for what budding footballers should aspire to. He may have left but there is no doubt Singapore’s footballing fraternity will continue to remember him, and more importantly honour him for it is characters like these that are the true heroes of the game.