Determination, teamwork and respect — these are the greatest lessons 15-year-old Mohammad Haryzal Abdullah and 14-year-old Alwydia Putri Nurany Mohammad Faizal took home from their surreal experience at the Allianz Explorer Camp | Football Edition in Munich, which took place from Aug 22 to 27, 2019.
The Singaporean teens were two of 50 footballers from 22 locations who survived rigorous regional selection trials to land a spot in the Allianz Explorer Camp | Football Edition in Munich — one that spanned over six days and offered them the rare chance to train under FC Bayern Munich coaches, as well as the opportunity to team up with young footballers from all over the world.
This year, the camp revolved around the theme “Dream, Courage and Purpose”, setting the stage for the teens to embark on a journey of self-exploration and hone important values. It also marks the third time Singapore is being represented at the Allianz Explorer Camp | Football Edition in Munich.
Persevering through trials
But clinching that golden ticket was no easy feat. According to Haryzal, the Singapore selection involved consecutive rounds of one-on-one matches that took more than just good football skills.
“It is not just about attacking or defending; each player had to guard two goal posts all while trying to score as many goals as possible,” he explains. “It takes a good deal of willpower and determination to be the most outstanding of the bunch.”
This dogged determination is one of many values Allianz Global Investors strives to inculcate in youths via the camp. By putting them through challenging scenarios, the teens were pushed to the limit to discover what they are capable of achieving.
“Being selected to represent Singapore at the Allianz Explorer Camp is a wonderful feeling, but it took a lot of courage and hard work to stand out in this male-dominated sport,” adds Alwydia. “I believe the judges witnessed my hunger for excellence during the selection process. That, coupled with my ability to be at ease among footballers from other regions, was probably what got me a winning spot in the camp.”
Learning to work together
For both Haryzal and Alwydia, spending six full days with new teammates from 22 different locations proved to be a valuable lesson in communication, understanding and respect for others.
“Knowing how important communication is in a team sport like football, we tried ways and means to ensure we understood each other. Sometimes we used hand signs and other times, we counted on Google Translate for communication. It was a memorable challenge,” says Haryzal.
Trainings aside, the participants were also given plenty of opportunities to mingle and bond on their own, such as through ping pong, table football and PlayStation 4 games during their leisure time.
“It doesn’t seem like much, but having to spend so much time together taught us the beauty of living in harmony and the importance of having respect for one another regardless of our diverse backgrounds,” explains Alwydia.
Instilling important values in the next generation
Organised by Allianz SE and sponsored by Allianz Global Investors, the football camp is a yearly affair since 2009 to nurture young talents and foster the values of teamwork, determination and respect through the game of football.
Mr Jason Fong, chief executive officer at Allianz Global Investors Singapore, says, “The football camp in Munich adapts a holistic approach that combines technical football training sessions as well as inspirational and learning sessions that aim to inspire participants to explore and pursue their passions from young. Participants of the camps can not only improve their skills in football, they can also interact with people of different locations and cultures through various activities. This is an experience they will cherish for the rest of their lives.”
Both teens echo the same sentiment, returning home having made lifelong friends and with a stronger sense of purpose.
“Getting to meet FC Bayern Munich’s central midfielder Thiago Alcântara was so surreal for me,” says Alwydia. “I’ve never had the chance to meet professional players in real life and this encounter made me realise that with hard work and perseverance, I could also achieve his level of success.”
Haryzal adds: “I’ve learnt that with courage and determination, nothing can stop us from achieving our dreams. The camp also taught me the importance of being there for one other as a team, regardless of the challenges we face.
“I’m very grateful for the wonderful friendships forged during this camp and look forward to the day we cross paths on the field again.”