National sepak takraw player Azreen retires after tragedy

For now, Azreen Sairudin just wants a full recovery. Next month, he will go for what he hopes will be a final operation to treat his left elbow.
For now, Azreen Sairudin just wants a full recovery. Next month, he will go for what he hopes will be a final operation to treat his left elbow.ST PHOTO: YEO KAI WEN

National sepak takraw player still can't forget brother's death months after bike accident

Almost three months on from a motorcycle accident that killed his younger brother and left him fighting for his own life, national sepak takraw player Azreen Sairudin is still scarred by what he describes as the "toughest period of his life".

The painful memories haunt him so much that he has announced his decision to retire from the sport.

"I had always wanted to represent Singapore at the SEA Games in front of a home crowd so in the lead-up to the Games, I trained very hard together with the rest of the team and went through a lot of tough training," said the 26-year-old.

He was slated to play a key role for Singapore in the sepak takraw events in June's SEA Games.

"But then things turned out to be very different and I did not even get to play.

PAINFUL MEMORIES

I love the sport but, now, I don't want to represent Singapore in sepak takraw. I have no more interest in the game after what has happened, and if I play, I will keep thinking about the accident.

AZREEN SAIRUDIN

"I love the sport but, now, I don't want to represent Singapore in sepak takraw. I have no more interest in the game after what happened, and if I play, I will keep thinking about (the accident)."

Azreen and his 21-year-old brother Aqil, who was riding pillion, were on the Seletar Expressway on June 7 when their motorcycle collided with a car.

Azreen suffered a fractured arm and broken finger. He had to undergo vein and skin graft operations.

Aqil succumbed to internal injuries in hospital.

More than two months have passed since the accident but Azreen was still emotional when recounting the details at his Woodlands home last week.

He said: "When I was on the ground, I could see Aqil who was 1 or 2 metres away from me.

"I asked him if he was okay and he said his chest hurt.

"I wanted to move towards him but I could not move at all. I told him to hold on and be strong.

"I still can't believe why he has to go. After all, my injuries were worse. It is really hard to believe even until now that he has gone."

While he is adamant not to go back to playing the game, Singapore Sepak Takraw Federation secretary-general Abdul Halim Kader has not given up hope yet.

He told The Straits Times: "We have continued to be in touch with Azreen and the family to ensure he has our support during his recovery. We want him to know that we are with him.

"He is a key player for us and once his is fully recovered and ready, we will try to convince him again."

For now, Azreen will focus on a full recovery. Next month, he will go for what he hopes will be a final operation to treat his left elbow, which has not healed as expected.

While the physical wounds will eventually heal, Azreen hopes that his mental scars can fade away as well. Looking at the pictures of Aqil that adorn the bedroom which he shares with his brother, Azreen said: "I woke up every day and he would be by my side in the bed.

"I still have not got used to waking up alone but I hope, with time, I will learn to let go."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 02, 2015, with the headline 'AZREEN RETIRES AFTER TRAGEDY'. Print Edition | Subscribe