Parental support backbone of Irfan and Steffi's careers

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Irfan Zakaria, Steffi Sarge Kaur, 08082019
Roots Asia
In a coaching session organised by Adidas, Irfan Zakaria and Steffi Sarge Kaur spoke of the support they received from their families as youngsters.

BY        ZULHILMI ZAINAL       Follow on Twitter

On Thursday afternoon, sports apparel maker Adidas organised a special football clinic for female football trainees of the Section 11 Secondary School, Shah Alam, with the help of three prominent names in Malaysian football.

The lucky students were coached by Malaysia national team assistant coach S. Balachandran, Malaysia men's senior team centre back Irfan Zakaria and Selangor women's futsal team star Steffi Sarge Kaur.

The three figures took the time to put the girls through their paces, but not before speaking to them about the challenges faced by a professional footballer.

Irfan Zakaria, S. Balachandran, Steffi Sarge Kaur, 08082019

One of the common topics touched by the trio was the importance of the support system made available to youth footballers by their own family.

In an interview with the press between the sessions, Irfan related his experience as a youth footballer. Interestingly, the Kuala Lumpur man had studied and trained at the same school as a Fifth Former, before receiving his break with the junior Malaysia teams.

Irfan Zakaria, 08082019

"My interest in football as a boy was sparked by my late father, who encouraged me to take it up. He sent me to academies and clubs, such as the PKNS FC academy when from when I was nine until I was 10. And that passion was fed by the support of my family, who followed me to matches played far from home.

"I started playing it seriously and developing the desire to go far in Form Two, when I was accepted to the Kuala Lumpur sports school."

Steffi meanwhile spoke glowingly of her family's interest in her career, during her stint as a footballer and her current career a futsal player.

"I'm very grateful towards both of my parents, who have been incredibly supportive of me since I was a schoolgirl. Until today, they still travel to watch me play, wherever that may be.

"That's the most important aspect of the support system; the parents. If they (youth footballers) don't get parental support, girls like the ones we see today won't be able to be here to train."

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