Football is in the blood

MANDEEP: Thank you for being part of this. You were one of my childhood idols and you brought so much joy to Singaporeans over the years watching the national team play. Can you tell us more about the local football scene when you started in the 80s and 90s, and especially leading up to the 1994 Malaysia Cup win.

FANDI: The 70s, 80s and 90s were fantastic times for sports, but more so for football. Everyone was glued to their television and eager to watch the games. People loved football because there was no other entertainment quite like it. As a player, it was exciting and motivating to see packed stadiums and fields. Farrer Park, which had five fields, would be packed. People would head down after work to watch the games. The most crowded field often had the best game to watch — the top table clash! The overall atmosphere was fantastic. Hawkers would be selling all kinds of food; air Bandung, Mamak Rojak, pineapple and more. Tickets were always sold out for the National Stadium games too. The queue would stretch from National Stadium to Geylang Lorong 1. People would also try to climb over the fences if they could not get tickets! It was a great time to be in football, which was part of the motivation and dedication that drove our '94 win. The support of the fans means a lot to teams.

Can you tell me about your earliest memories of Weston Corp. Did you use to come to the store in Peninsula Shopping Complex?

It was a one-stop shop where we could get everything. Though the boots were not as expensive then, it was still costly for new players, so Weston was a great starting point for many players, because of the variety. adidas Chile was the first boots my dad bought for me. It was only $35 at that time. I recall the Copa Mundial being very popular at that time. Since those glory days in the 90s and particularly in recent times there has not been a lot of success in the local Football scene and even the popularity of local football seems on the wane.

What advise would you give the younger generation so a new Star can be born.

  It is all about 3DS — Determination, Dedication, Discipline and Sacrifice. Players must also believe in their abilities and work hard. We have many talented players, but they have to keep at their dream. Be prepared to make sacrifices to make their dreams come true. Nothing worth having in life comes easy. Skills alone are not enough; you must have the will to succeed. Put the skills to the test and keep learning and improving. They must put themselves in a competitive environment that tests their mind and body and push themselves harder. It does not have to be in Europe; they can do so regionally now as well.

  I remember reading stories of you watching your own father play which inspired you to become a football player. Football is clearly in your blood and all your sons have had success and the elders ones are already representing the national team. How proud of you them are you and do you see yourself in them?

  I am very proud of what my sons have achieved. When they were young, they spoke about their desire to become professional footballers. I shared with them that it is a challenging journey. While as a father, I have set a direction for them; it has been up to their determination and focus on creating the results. I do believe they have the family gene. They have the will to improve their skills and do well continuously. I always tell them that mental strength is critical to achieving your goals. I see myself in them, but they are unique in their way, and our journeys are different. As a father, I must support their dreams and ambitions. However, I didn’t have exposure or opportunities presented the same way; I don’t regret my journey; it has shaped who I am today. It does not matter how we get there; we must get there.

Iman, your daughter, is blazing her own path as a singer and songwriter. Tell us about her and what do you think about her career path.

  She surprised us with her talent! We never knew that she could sing and write songs. I am incredibly proud of the young woman she has become. She has indeed come into her own; ambitious, determined and dedicated. I can see the joy and love she has for what she does. She has also become independent.

  Now both you and your daughter have the same special edition shoe limited to 500 pairs world wide – do you think your sons are going to be jealous. 

  Oh yes, the boys will be jealous, but we can always share! I love the shoes they are very comfortable and eye-catching!


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