Football: Teen Fikri gets 2nd German stint before going to ITE

Fikri, 16, who impressed during a two-week stint at Tennis Borussia Berlin this month, knows he must think much faster on the field in Germany.
Fikri, 16, who impressed during a two-week stint at Tennis Borussia Berlin this month, knows he must think much faster on the field in Germany.PHOTO COURTESY OF MUHAMMAD FIKRI JUNAIDI

He was supposed to start his fitness training Nitec course at ITE College East in Simei in the new year.

Instead, Muhammad Fikri Junaidi will be taking a detour first - to play football in Germany.

The 16-year-old is heading for a six-month attachment with Tennis Borussia Berlin's Under-17 team, who play in the U-17 Bundesliga, from the second week of January.

Their senior team, who had two single seasons in the German top flight in the 1970s, play in the fifth-tier NOFV Oberliga Nord league.

It will be Fikri's second stint at the club, after he impressed during a Dec 4-19 training trip organised by the German Football Academy (GFA), a local non-profit organisation based at the SIA Sports Club.

Then, he was part of a squad of 14 boys - 11 Singaporeans and three local-based foreigners - who played eight friendly matches in Berlin.

The opportunity to further his football dream came as a surprise to Fikri, who recently left Coral Secondary School after completing his N levels.

The 1.79m-tall midfielder was the school's football captain. Said Fikri, who also played for Home United's U-17 side this year: "Since I was a kid, I have dreamt of playing in Spain and that's my real target.

"My friends would laugh at me, but I said to them, 'You watch me.'

"Right now, even though it is not confirmed if I will get to stay on to play in Europe, at least I am one step closer towards fulfilling my dream."

Having already had a taste of the German brand of football, the Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo fan hopes to make the most out of his second overseas stint.

Fikri said: "I have to think much faster on the pitch.

"In Singapore, I've got more time with the ball. But in Germany, there are so many players who would close you down and even before you get to the ball, you have to think of where to go or who to pass it to.

"I think I can really improve a lot while I am over there."

Through establishing a partnership between German football clubs and Singapore, GFA chairman Franco Radewaldt, 52, hopes to create more of such chances to help budding youngsters develop their skills overseas.

The Singapore permanent resident, who has lived here since 1995, said: "People feel that the football in Singapore is so bad, but there are many players who are talented.

" So I want to use these opportunities as a door-opener for them to develop their talents."

Alvin Chia

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 24, 2016, with the headline 'Teen Fikri gets 2nd German stint before going to ITE'. Print Edition | Subscribe