Football: Ex-Singapore internationals make volunteer coach's wish come true

Fandi Ahmad and other ex-Lions coaching children from low-income families.
Fandi Ahmad and other ex-Lions coaching children from low-income families.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

SINGAPORE - Former international footballers, including Fandi Ahmad, Nazri Nasir and Ho Kwang Hock rolled back the years on a sunny Saturday morning as they played a friendly six-a-side match at Jalan Besar Stadium.

The event, organised by Great Eastern (GE), was part of the insurer's SG50 Wishes campaign. Playing football with the stars of yesteryear was Bukhari Salleh's SG50 wish. The 37-year-old made his wish in the middle of last year and was informed of his selection in November. His was also the last of around 50 wishes granted by GE.

Bukhari is also a volunteer coach. Together with his amateur team Boys United FC, they coach children from low-income families at least once a week. Yesterday, the kids were coached by the ex-Lions for almost an hour.

The private bus driver said: "I've been waiting to do this for a long time. I'm happy, but it's not just about me. The children, even their parents, are very excited to see legends like Fandi."

Fandi and Co. conceded the first goal against Boys United, but their experience eventually told as goals from Nazri, Ho and Fandi secured a 3-1 win. Acting Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung, who was invited by Bukhari, also took to the pitch to play in the game. Mr Ong played one half of the match for each team.

Said Fandi: "We're (the ex-Singapore internationals) always willing to help and give back to the community, and I'd like to thank GE for organising this. It's great to see the children having fun, and I'm very happy to be part of this."

GE's chief marketing officer Colin Chan said: "We are delighted to fulfil Bukhari's wish. He and his team of coaches are to be lauded for spending their Sundays volunteering their time and services to coach aspiring young footballers."