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The Home Team at the 2018 Asian Games: Giving Their Very Best
They’ve trained for years to give their very best. Meet our national sepak takraw players from the Singapore Civil Defence Force.

Meet Staff Sergeant (SSgt) Farhan bin Aman, Corporal (Cpl) Muhammad Khairilshamy bin Shamsudin and Cpl Mohd Alhaj bin Kasmanani of the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF). Dedicated lifesavers all, they are also national sepak takraw players representing Singapore in the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia. 

23 Aug 2018 scdf asian games sepak takraw players
Training for glory, playing to win (from left): SSgt Farhan bin Aman, Cpl Muhammad Khairilshamy bin Shamsudin and Cpl Mohd Alhaj bin Kasmanani. PHOTO: Desmond Ang

“I started playing sepak takraw when I was 12, after a close friend introduced the sport to me,” recalled Cpl Khairilshamy, a 21-year-old SCDF officer at Woodlands Fire Station who has wanted to be a firefighter since he was young. “I enjoy playing soccer and this sport seemed very similar, so I decided to give it a shot.” 

He has since dedicated the last nine years of his life to honing his skills. “I really liked the tournament atmosphere and the focus on team spirit,” said Cpl Khairilshamy. 

The training regime is intense; to prepare for major tournaments, the team practises at night for three to four hours, up to five times a week. Cpl Khairilshamy, a full-time National Serviceman (NSF) firefighter, was given time off to attend trainings, but has to return to the station once training ends. “After training, I’ll return to continue my shift,” he said. “It can get tiring sometimes, but I want to represent Singapore and do SCDF proud.” 

For Cpl Alhaj, a Service Support Unit driver at Yishun Fire Station, it was a dream come true for him to be able to represent Singapore. “Since I was young, I’ve been following national players and their competitions,” said the 23-year-old who started playing sepak takraw when he was seven. “Now that I’m a national player myself, the responsibility is on me to represent my team and country.” 

What Cpl Alhaj loves about sepak takraw is its unique qualities as a sport. “The spirit on the court and the challenge against your opponents are quite different from other sports,” he said. “I’ve gone up against Pornchai Kaokaew of Thailand, the best striker in the world, and it was a great learning experience. Indonesia and Myanmar will also be tough competitors because they’re among the top-ranked teams in the world.” 
23 Aug 2018 scdf sepak takraw players collage
Dedicated to their duties as SCDF officers, and to their sport: The players conduct their training sessions between shifts, travelling to and from their respective workplaces to their training base in Bedok. PHOTOS: Desmond Ang

Leading the team is SSgt Farhan, a Marine Specialist at West Coast Marine Fire Station who joined the national squad in 2004. The 31-year-old is no stranger to the international arena and had played in a number of major tournaments such as the Southeast Asian Games, Malaysian Games and the King’s Cup Sepak Takraw World Championship. 

SSgt Farhan picked up the sport by chance, but fell for it immediately. “I used to play soccer but when I enrolled in Secondary 1, the soccer club was already full. So I decided to try out for sepak takraw instead,” he recalled. 

SSgt Farhan joined the national sepak takraw team in 2004. As an SCDF regular who has to balance work and his secondary appointments with training, his priorities are fighting fires and the safety and security of Singapore. That will always come first for him. 

“When I’m on duty, my rota commander decides if I’m able to attend training,” said SSgt Farhan. “My commanders have been very helpful and they try their best to release me for training. But during major incidents, I’ll tell my coach that I’m on duty and unable to train, and they understand.” 

Travelling between Bedok and West Coast Marine Fire Station daily for training and work can be tiring for SSgt Farhan, but the sacrifice is worth it as the team is representing Singapore with pride at the Asian Games. “It’s good enough that my commanders try to release me for training, and I really appreciate them for it. That’s enough; I’ll never ask for more.”

All the best to SSgt Farhan, Cpl Khairilshamy and Cpl Alhaj at the 2018 Asian Games!
Track their progress on the Asian Games 2018

© 2019 Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore. All Rights Reserved.

  1. by Desmond Ang
  2. 23 August 2018
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