At the age of 33, Fazrul Nawaz knows he is nearing the end of his career as a professional footballer.
So four months ago, the national team striker began part-time studies for a Diploma in Sport and Exercise Sciences, offered by private education institution PSB Academy.
Yesterday, the father of three received a boost when the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) and PSB Academy signed a five-year memorandum of understanding (MOU), which will offer all Singapore Premier League (SPL) players study grants of up to 15 per cent for their range of certificates, diplomas and university partner degrees.
Fazrul is the first beneficiary of the partnership.
"I have had an eye on my post-playing career and wanted to upgrade myself since I was 28, but it was tough for me at first," Fazrul, who is on loan at SPL club Hougang United from Tampines Rovers, told The Straits Times on the sidelines of yesterday's announcement at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
"With the diploma, I hope I can work as a fitness coach with maybe FAS or (national sports agency) Sport Singapore. I have to thank FAS and PSB Academy for this partnership, which will be a really big help to me," added Fazrul, whose highest academic qualification is O levels.
As part of the MOU, an additional $10,000 worth of rebates will be given to any SPL club that have at least 10 players who enrol in diploma or degree courses.
PSB Academy students can also benefit from the partnership - the FAS will offer eligible students or graduates internship opportunities with the national football body, or with local professional clubs.
Said FAS' acting general secretary Yazeen Buhari: "Besides supporting our players' professional careers on the field, we recognise the need to prepare them for their post-playing careers as well.
"We want to equip our players with the necessary skills and knowledge while they are still in the midst of their playing careers as they make plans for their future."
Derrick Chang, chief executive officer of PSB Academy said: "This partnership with FAS provides our students real opportunities to gain exposure to the sports industry, and allows them to pursue career interests in this emerging arena."