16-year-old Singaporean footballer Muhamad Irfan Bin Muhamad Ariff was one of the two stars who emerged from the recently concluded Epson Youth Challenge 2018.
As a result, the young midfielder has earned a chance to train with Japanese club Matsumoto Yamaga FC.
Epson Youth Challenge is a youth development football competition organised by Epson Singapore and Geylang International Football Club. This year, Muhamad Irfan Bin Muhamad Ariff and Izzan Nabil Bin Zalani have been handpicked by the judges to train in Japan.
Ahead of his training stint with Yamaga FC, Goal caught up with young Muhamad Irfan who spoke about his football journey so far.
Q -Tell us about your passion for football?
A - It started when I was in primary school. I started playing football when my father convinced me to play. Before that, I was in my school hockey team. But after my father convinced me, he invited me to play. It was my first ever football experience. It was very challenging, very different from hockey. But I love football and would like to continue my passion for football.
Q - When you first played football, was it an open field or an 11-a-side field?
A - It was an 11-a-side match. It was a good experience for me.
Q - What was your position when you first played football?
A - I played as a central midfielder.
Q - What did your father say after the first football match?
A - He told me to continue playing football. He said I have the ability to play the game.
Q - What prompted you to choose studies over your passion (football)?
A - Passion is passion but to me, in life, you need to have proper qualifications. So my priorities were always to complete my studies first and then chase passion.
Q - How do you feel about your upcoming training stint with Yamaga FC in Japan?
A - I feel all my hard work paid off and I would like to thank all my team members and coaches and everyone who has supported to accept this challenge. I am excited to take this opportunity of overseas training stint and I am really looking forward to it.
Q - How are you preparing yourself for this training in Japan?
A - Every weekend I take football training in order to prepare myself.
Q - What are planning to learn from this training stint in Japan?
Q - I am looking forward to learning new strategies, tactics and skills from the coaches.
Q - How important is a competition like Epson youth challenge?
A - By participating in such competitions like Epson, I think scouts will be able to identify different skills and capabilities of different players. This kind of tournaments should happen more often so that it spreads awareness in Singapore.
Q - What was your experience in the Epson youth challenge?
A -I knew that only two players from here will get a chance of training overseas so I told myself to give a hundred per cent so that I could get that place.
Q - Your advice to budding players?
A - I would tell them to pursue their dreams and never give up. Always think positive and maintain your fitness. Health is very important.
Q – Who is your role model?
A - Sahil Suhaimi is a player who inspires me a lot. I see them they give a hundred per cent every time. Also, they are very humble. I also look up to Cristiano Ronaldo. He is my favourite player. He is a very intelligent player.
Q - Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
A - I would like to pursue my studies first. From there I will see how can I continue my passion for football. This is too early for me to decide.