When everyone’s doing it

“Why not?!” I demanded. ” Pfft! F.Y.I They’re doing it.” I huffed as I stormed away. I have never questioned the coaches decision but not today. Today I just erupted. Victory was ours but he was too adamant and loyal to his values and wasn’t letting me change that.

I’ve been on my feet since 7am, drenched and parched under the laser like rays of the noon sun and running around ferrying water bottles. It didn’t help, my 5-year-old who resembled almost like a baked chicken refused to get out of the sun and sit under some shade. It didn’t help, me kicking myself for forgetting to bring along an umbrella and my eldest refusing to drink water because she has an issue with sharing her water bottle.

“Fine! Don’t hydrate yourself!”

Slowly the guilt crept in as I watched her play, skillfully defending her post but looking exhausted and thirsty. Next thing I knew, I was on my feet, running towards my car for a fresh water bottle, cursing along the way.

“Here’s your bottle and this time learn to say no if anyone wants a sip from your bottle because this is the last fresh bottle”

Then I grabbed a bottle from the team’s pool cooler bag and forced my overage toddler. She looked up, her skin almost ripe like a tomato.

“Fuck!” I forgot the umbrella again. “Fuck!” my daughter echoed. “Noooooo, I said duck! because a ball was heading your way darling” my quick response to kill the swearing.

Clearly it wasn’t my day.

20 May, 2017. We arrived early at Wisma FAM, Kelana Jaya. We were the first and a light drizzle early in the morning promised a beautiful day for tournament. The grass had a fine layer of diamond like water droplets, a nice tent with some neatly stacked up plastic chairs for mom’s like to me to rest our heavy bottoms on, was a welcoming sight. I was impressed “Nothing could go wrong” I voiced my thoughts delightfully.

I jinxed it because a lot went wrong.

The organising team came fashionably late. Much later than most of the teams participating for the AFC – FAM Grassroot Football Day. Then they forced all players to change into their AFC jerseys which was handed out for free (one plus point) but this was an issue for the girls because the bloody toilet was on the opposite end from where we were and it had a long queue and they had just done that when I made them change into their Supergirls’ jersey just half hour ago. The look on their face said it all, when I broke the news about them needing to change again.

Later to my dismay, I find out they didn’t have a schedule for the girls. “What?! What you mean you don’t have it? This is a tournament”

It was already 10am and the girls still had not played their first match. Luckily the boys match had started so they girls kept themselves entertained by watching these matches and having their mini discussion about each player on the pitch.

Finally, after an hour and the fact many other team managers, were getting uneasy with the wait, the organisers moved the girls to a turf field with small goal post.

I know, I seriously jinxed it because the only plus point, the well-kept natural grass field, was only meant for under 12 boys. The girls were hoping to get to repeat their experience on real grass like at JSSL International Tournament.

“Nevermind girls, we play on” the coach said encouragingly.

There’s always a silver lining. Smaller field meant they won’t get tired fast and smaller goal post meant, they didn’t really need a keeper, so everyone played, full on.

Both the Supergirls team played well, winning all their matches and securing a spot in the semi-finals. Once again, the defense team was relentless at making sure the ball was always in their possession and striping away the opponent’s chances to score a goal.

All was well until the break to decide which teams made it to the Semis. We weren’t told how long we had to wait for the results which by the way was bloody long. We didn’t want to risk ruining our chances at the Semis, so we didn’t allow the girls to eat because from experience, we have learned, these girls tend to slack off and behave like a well fed python after a meal. They morph from a Speedy Gonzales to a tortoise. Crushing any slither of hope for victory.

Not satisfied, I stomped back to my husband. “Look at that team. They brought players from other team. And here’s another with a couple of “import” players. These coaches came with one aim, to win this tournament at any cause. At least we are placing our own players on the field. So why aren’t you getting all the seasoned players into one team and the new ones in another? This way we can  be sure at least one team will make it the finals?”

“Just trust me” these three words was all he said and shut the door to my Grab Car.

“Was that your coach?” asked my Grab Car driver. Not in the mood for a chat, I simply lamented “yes” hoping that cue in my voice would stop him from further chat but today simply wasn’t my day.

“Sorry mam, that was my girlfriend calling, checking on me because today is only my sixth day as a Grab car driver and she has trust issues. She’s afraid of leng lui o (pretty girl oh) passengers.”

“Seriously?” I said laughing out loud. Thanks to him my mood changed and this infected my daughter and changed her sad pout into a smile because she was unhappy to leave her sisters and head over to her ballet class.

An hour in the comfortable and cool lounge at her ballet class made way for me to calm down. I even managed to sneak in a power nap and this helped clear my head. It made room for my sensible self to return and I recollected the reasons why my girls joined an all male dominated sport.

When I reunited with my husband and daughters over our overdue lunch at 3pm, and after gobbling up some fast food, he decides to tell me why he sent two teams instead of one strong team to play in the tournament.

“We decided to play balanced teams, mixing seniors and new players. This was done consciously to develop the newer players, that they learn from their senior players. Putting all our energy and efforts into the seniors alone will leave us only with one team. Supergirls is not about winning, it’s more than that. It’s about giving opportunity, even if it means, we might lose” he explained his earlier three words.

He shared with me pictures of what happened when I wasn’t there and from these pictures I can see, he made the right choice. These girls didn’t care they didn’t win the champion trophy. They were happy with their third and forth placing. My girls couldn’t stop talking about the fun they had playing against their own teammates for the 3rd spot.

“Can’t wait for our next tournament ma!” my daughter cheered gleefully

That’s what really matters. What say you?

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Both teams lost at the semis and now play each other for 3rd. Look on the Ref was priceless
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Supergirls chilling out with the opponents who beat them at the Semis. Some of them are ex-Supergirls. This is what Supergirls are all about
My tweens were very amused with their medal. Check it out …‘Footballs Day’ doesn’t seem right

 

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To a better and stronger Supergirls

After 6 wins and 1 draw, it all came down to one single opponent, Anza from Singapore, to decide which team goes through to the finals at the JSSL International Football Tournament.

Anza had been the champion for Team A and we knew we had an upheaval battle waiting for us after defeating Proveda from phillipine 2-0 which moved us up to meet Anza.

Day 3 had been the hottest and most challenging day in this tournament. Playing on turf grass at 1pm, in the hot unforgiving sun was pretty exhausting.

After their first match, against Proveda, the girls only had half hour to catch their breath and medicate injuries sustained before meeting Anza. They were hastily rushed off to pitch 1 for their next match.

Minutes after the whistle went off, Rania scored a goal, giving us the lead and the confidence we needed because it was an extremely nerve wracking to be pitted against last year’s JSSL champs.

If I thought the Tai Tam Tigers from Hong Kong were big players, Anza were twice of that. These girls were very experienced and mentally strong because the first nil advantage didn’t dampen their spirit even a wee bit. It only made them stronger and more fierce in their game.

This 1-0 lead was short lived after an equalizer goal from the opposing team and one immediately after that was scored. Just as day turns into night, casting a blanket of darkness, it was clearly visible, Supergirls had lost hope.

The fatigue which they hid well up to this point suddenly began to show. Their game got a lot slower and focused all their energy at ensuring no more goals were scored by Anza. 3-1 was the score and that marked the end of Supergirls journey in this tournament.

It was quite heartbreaking to see these girls unable to move to finals after playing so well over the past three days. It was time to let these girls digest their journey at their own pace. But some are already talking about what should be done for next year’s tournament.

There is hope. There’s always hope.

To a better and stronger Supergirls.

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Come what may

That was the mindset we went with to JSSL International​ football tournament in Singapore: A tournament with over 200 teams from across Asia, 3000 players and at 10 different venues.

Being pitted against teams with more experience, as some of these teams have been in this international tournament since its inception, in 2013, was a little nerve wracking for me but not to the Supergirls. All these girls wanted was to play and were looking forward to get on the pitch for some challenge.

It was time to see the fruitation of all the hard work and dedication put in by the players, team managers, coaches and parents. Time to let these girls put into practice what they have been training all these ardeous months.

It’s​ amazing how much these girls have matured in their game. For the past two days we have witnessed a proper footballing team. Each Supergirl played with gusto and knew how to handle her position. Most of them were determined and were focused. They had a lot more stamina too and played 22 minutes straight which is alot longer than what they are used to.

Even the coaches seemed more relaxed compared to previous tournaments​. There was very little coaching whilst the girls were playing because the girls perfectly executed the coaches’ strategies. Kudos to coaches and team director for their time spent strategising.

Day 1 had been quite good. The weather was perfect; cloudy with a chance of rain but it stayed dry. Our first match took almost an hour because the lightening sirens went off twice and we were forced to evacuate the field. The girls didn’t mind this small break as it gave them some rest time and a chance for the coaches to regroup and re-strategise.

Supergirls’ first opponent, JSSL Stoney from Singapore​, was a good ice breaker into the tournament and we won 1-0. The girls struggled to get  their rythm especially with the interruption from the weather but Rania managed to squeeze in a  side goal giving us the victory in the last couple of minutes.

The second match, against LFA also from Singapore, saw a brilliant goal by Rania at the early stages  of the game and was finished off by a  wonderful tap-in by Sabrina.

Day 2 was a little tougher. The sun was like ripe bright orange ball in the sky, shining ever so brightly. Our first game was against Tim Tam Tigers from Hong Kong. It was an extremely tough encounter. Our opponents were all equally larger than any of our players except Asheesh.

But with some smart planning and tactics from our coaches, we managed to hold our ground and not allow a single goal to pierce through. Tim Tam had already built a good reputation for themselves by leaving their opponents with 5 nil defeat. Brave defending got us a well deserved draw.

Next match was against Davao City Philippines. Both teams has a friendly cheer and chats before getting on to the pitch as opponents. Davao’s team JC was familiar with Supergirls’ as they met at Barcelona Soccer Camp through the Kem Bola programme.

We saw another a win towards the end of the match when Adriana scored a goal moments after entering as a substitute with a great pass from Rania.

By the time we got to our last match against JSSL Elite 2, many girls were already exhausted and having made it through to quarter finals, by being second in the table, the coaches decided to shake things up. With only Asheesh, Yasmin and Rania from the previous game. The game was won by a long range looping shot from Kanchen that was enough to beat the team.

The girls were clearly tired but are equally excited for tomorrow.

 

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More than just about football

Tactical planning before the game

Every year something new springs up. Makes life interesting and we look forward to these opportunities and challenges.

The Supergirls has had their ups and downs but with the grace of the almighty, we are still going strong.

More girls have joined us, more parents are beginning to realize girls football isn’t such a bad thing. The commitment and dedication of these parents is commendable.

A lot has happened in the first quarter of 2017. The girls have grown a little stronger, bonded a little better and gained a lot confidence, both on and off pitch. And these have translated into many aspects of their life.

They are doing well with school and other activities. They are braver to try new sports and have been chosen to lead many of their sports teams.

They have even dipped their hands in some acting. Our girls did so well at the audition for Kasut Bola Pink, a Malay movie that the director created a new scene to fit the whole team. The lead actress even donned on our Supergirls Jersey. How cool is that?

We were even invited for the premier screening of this movie. It was great joy watching these girls faces when they saw themselves on the big screen. The bonus was reading their names appear in the credit listing and their beloved teams name. They were truly proud.

See, I told you a lot has happened.

To end the first quarter, the Supergirls had a sparring match with Superdads. It was a lovely match day. Watching girls playing against their fathers, brothers and some moms too. Amazingly these girls won win a score of 12-3.

I, who have never played striker scored a perfect equalizer goal the first half of the match but it was all downhill after 20 minutes. Superdads’ stamina was no match to Supergirls. These girls were like Energizer Bunnies. They simply never grew tired.

Looking forward to more exciting challenges in the next quarter. Stay with us.

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To be in the moment

VIP seat at Camp Nou, Catalonia Spain. Also experienced the media room and the tunnel players walk through before match.

Firstly I am amazed at how far my first born has made it in her footie adventure. When they first joined this amazing all girls football team, never in a million years did my daughters, my husband or I ever dreamt of it giving us such a wonderful experience.

It was May 2015, one bright sunny evening. My husband and I nervously approached some moms and dads at the USJ 4 field. It was hard to get their attention because they were busy laying out food for their Vasakhi potluck party, which later we learned is something these crazy awesome bunch of volunteers from the Subang Jaya Community Sports Club (SJCSC), love doing.

Many were dressed in fine Punjabi suits and the men, wore their favourite Kurtis. Some non Punjabis even donned on the turbans. How cool was that?

I was in my old tattered jeans (one of my few favourite posession which I had been wearing for over a decade) and my husband in his usual loose football shorts and oversized sandals. Both my girls begged us to turn back because they too felt out of place. I’m glad my husband, a football lover, did what he does best when it comes to football, he walked right up and asked if my girls could join them. The rest is history.

It took a lot dedication and we had to give up our bum lifestyles; which was spending the whole weekend cooped up in our house watching television.

Every weekend we were would drag ourselves out of the house and onto the field for football training. During tournament season, it was mapping KL roads. Going to places we would normally never go and spending our whole morning and afternoon at these tournaments.

Most of these tournaments would start about 7.30 (we meet early to warm up together) and end about 2 pm if we are lucky but usually can last until 3 or 4 pm.

 

SEE ALSO: Their first tournament

Every weekend there is football, if it’s not a tournament then it would be training. As tough as it sounds, it is a lot of fun too.

It’s lovely to see these girls, ages between 5 to 13 years old meet up and train. It’s not just about football, it’s more than that. Although they meet only once a week but the connection between them is good. They always seemed eager to train, which is a positive attitude.

We are lucky to have such a dedicated team coordinator and awesome team committee. These people not only jive well with each other but are genuinely interested in helping girls in their football journey.

They get them into tournaments so it would give these girls the confidence they need. Even if it means joining all boys tournaments and playing against all boys teams because football is still, a male dominated sport.

But luckily Astro Kasih saw the gap and decided to give equal opportunity to young girls, and a footing in football. They are helping both young girls and boys by giving them a invaluable experience.

And that’s how my daughter ended up in Barcelona, Spain for a 10 day overseas football training camp at FCB Escola.

It’s brilliant what she is experiencing at this moment. Would there be more opportunities for girls in football? We and many parents have our fingers crossed.

But for time being, we are just taking one step at a time and enjoying her journey. Hoping she would be able to do more when she returns and help others along the way.

With Dani Alves at a beach in Barcelona

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There’s no place like home

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At the airport before departing to Barcelona

“This time tomorrow, I won’t be doing the dishes and the next morning I won’t be taking Bahadur for a walk or any of my usual mundane routine stuff”, said my eldest, looking rather glum at the dinner table .

“But I thought you hated all these chores?” I butt in, trying to make light of the matter.

She was sad because this would be her first trip without us but was happy about going to Barcelona for a football camp.

She didn’t know how to react because she had worked for it and did her best to be part of the lucky 32 that be attending a 10 days football training but as the day drew closer, her feelings were playing with her. It was a big bag of mixed emotions.

“Are you sure you are my Asheesh?” I asked her because kids her age wouldn’t worry about missing their daily mundane stuff.

“Yea! Imagine no nagging ma to annoy you,” her little sister said annoyingly.

Listening to her speak about how she was going to miss the normal and mundane in her life made her sound so matured.
Perhaps she too feels that wonderful feeling my husband and I get each time we return home after our holiday or weekend away.

There’s truly no place like home.

The little one missing her elder sister and calling out her name while hugging the laptop
The little one missing her elder sister and calling out her name while hugging the laptop


Barcelona Chronicles continues…

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History Happens Here: Day 1 FCB Escola, Barcelona

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At  the FCB Escola Soccer camp’s pitch; during their training

During my sporting days; I was a runner and played netball for school which pretty much up sums up the extent of my athleticism, but I always complained of the heat.

It took too much energy off me when I was training or during actual competitions because I would be drenched by the end of it. Feeling completely exhausted and burnt all over which was just the right recipe for me to complain and bitch, and cry and kick.

Sunblock wasn’t a thing back then and non existence for a suburban girl like me.

On one misty morning, many moons ago, I noticed an improvement in my athletic skills. A much better performance than my usual attempts at  a cross country run because on that particular day, the sun was hidden behind thick dense clouds and the air was fresh. Felt like I was running under a perpetual soft rain fall, that kept my body temperature cool.

I managed to secure the second spot, just seconds after the victor. Immediately a judgement was passed; that people from cold country were so lucky because they didn’t have to suffer running under humid hot weather like mine, and perhaps that was the reason most of the fastest runners were from that part of the world (then).

That was the extent of my sporting knowledge, limited to my locality and experience.

At Camp Nou: History Happens Here

But listening to my daughter sharing on about the experiences she’s gaining while at a football training camp in Barcelona was so insightful.
“It’s so painful and hard to breathe, ma”. I constantly feel like there is something stuck in my throat and I have to cough it out to clear it so the air can travel to my lungs”, she complained during my most recent Skype conversation with her and her friend; who usually joins in this Skype conversations, nodding excitedly at their recent experience.

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It’s true what the Barca coaches said on the first day of The Advance Training Camp in KL, that he isn’t looking for the Messi. It takes more than just talent to make it this far.

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The Supergirls make it to Barcelona

Football was predominantly a male sporting activity but not anymore. Although they aren’t many woman footballers in the professional arena, as compared to men, it has not stopped girls from picking up this sport.

Thankfully these days you are able to find some all girls football teams like the Supergirls.

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photo courtesy of Astro

On September 2016, 7 players from the Supergirls moved on to Phase 2 for a five-day residential Advanced Training Camp in Kuala Lumpur. They were selected out of thousands of young footballers (ages 10 to 12 years) during a nationwide search by Astro Kem Bola 2016. This was a proud moment for all the Supergirls’ players, coaches and parents.

SEE ALSO: 7 Supergirls at Astro Kem Bola 2016

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(far left) Thurga, Lakei, Rania, Yasmin, Asheesh, Kanchen, Ashley (far right)

And for Phase 3, Astro Kem Bola 2016 programme,  4 of our girls have been selected for a 10-day Overseas Training Programme in Barcelona. They are currently undergoing a Pre-Barcelona Camp in Kuala Lumpur before they leave for a 10 Day Overseas Football Training in Barcelona, Spain.

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At Pre-Barcelona Camp: Thurga, Asheesh Kaur, Yasmin, Ashley (L-R)

They will take part in an immersive exchange programme which includes training under the local academy coaches, attending a live professional football match as well as a series of friendly matches against local youth sides, in Barcelona.

These girls, by that I mean each and every single Supergirls player has never ceased to amaze us with their dedication and love for the game.

We are particularly proud of what these four girls have achieved thus far and are rooting for more success for all girls from the Supergirls in the near future.

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The Supergirls is the first Malaysian grassroots all-girls football team between the ages of 6 to 12 years old. It was conceptualised in 2014 and it’s first training was held on 18 January 2014.

To date Supergirls have over 30 girls, aged between 6 to 12 years old. Enrollment is open throughout the year and all you need to be part of the Supergirls, is  the passion to play, regardless of skills.

“While no one would join the league without a love for football, our league is actually less about football and more about growing balanced kids and healthy families. We strongly encourage all parents to attend their children’s games, support them as they play and make life-long family memories. All officials are parents and other volunteers from the community. Our core values include unity, service and family” SJCSC vision statement

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Get in touch with the Supergirls via their Facebook page at Supergirls Subang Jaya Community Sports Club. Open to any girl aged 6 to 14 years old.

*Link Supergirls Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/sjcscsupergirls/

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Supergirls at Astro Kem Bola

There was a time when Supergirls was taken for granted at tournaments. They were considered as some girls with no skills or threat. Snide remarks were heard at tournaments but all that is in the past.

Things have started to change and this male dominated contact sport is beginning to open its doors to girls. Some local all-boys teams even have girls playing for them.

All girls-football teams are scarce in this region but this has not stopped the Supergirls from progressing and playing football. Even if it means to participate in all-boys football tournaments.

What they lack in size and strength, they make up in spirit. Supergirls are ferocious on the pitch and never let anything break their spirit. They play with gusto till the end regardless of the result and always put up a good fight that give the opposing them a run for their money.

“We aim to encourage grassroots football among girls through the Supergirls. More importantly, our vision is to provide the girls with a platform for friendship, irrespective of race, creed and ability, for with unity comes strength” Zaini Mazlan, Supergirls’ Coordinator.

Astro Kem Bola 2016

Seven Supergirls moved on to Phase 2 for a five-day residential Advanced Training Camp in Kuala Lumpur. They were selected out of thousands of young footballers (10 to 12 years) during a nationwide search by Astro Kem Bola 2016.

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(far left) 1.Thurga, 2.Lakei, Rania, 3.Yasmin, 4.Asheesh, 5.Kanchen, 6.Ashley (far right)

Astro Kem Bola is organised by Astro Kasih, the corporate social responsibility arm of Malaysia-based integrated consumer media entertainment group Astro, and 1MCC Sports Sdn Bhd.

They are among the 72 young footballers from Malaysia, Philippines and Singapore vying for a chance of a lifetime to train with Barcelona, one of best football clubs in the world. At the camp, they will undergo intensive football drills, focusing on teamwork, positioning and strategic play as well as various classroom activities on health and nutrition.

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Off-field training / photo Astro Kasih

“Even the exposure of training with these Barca coaches for five days is good enough for me and my girls. I’m not sure about them making the cut and the trip to Barcelona, but I’m sure they can take this experience very far in life.”  Jagdesh Singh (Supergirls Coach) quoted to Asia Samachar.

 

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7. Syarah (second from right)

Last year (2015), Supergirl’s team captain Rania made it to Phase 3 along with 31 other players who spent 10 days at a European football club in West Ham.

This year, Phase 3 will see the best 32 young footballers (16 boys and 16 girls), sent for a 10-day Overseas Training Programme in Barcelona.

The Supergirls is the first Malaysian grassroots all-girls football team between the ages of 6 to 12 years old. It was conceptualised in 2014 and it’s first training was held on 18 January 2014.

To date Supergirls have over 30 girls, aged between 6 to 12 years old. Enrollment is open throughout the year and all you need to be part of the Supergirls, is  the passion to play, regardless of skills.

“While no one would join the league without a love for football, our league is actually less about football and more about growing balanced kids and healthy families. We strongly encourage all parents to attend their children’s games, support them as they play and make life-long family memories. All officials are parents and other volunteers from the community. Our core values include unity, service and family” SJCSC vision statement

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Get in touch with the Supergirls via their Facebook page at Supergirls Subang Jaya Community Sports Club. Open to any girl aged 6 to 14 years old.

*Link Supergirls Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/sjcscsupergirls/

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