“He (His brother) was the one who introduced the sport to me and taught me how to dribble and curl the ball. When I was younger, my older brother would always drag me to the void deck where he would practice free kicks with me as the goal keeper” Faris Ramli recalls fondly when asked what got him into soccer.
We spoke to the wanton mee loving national footballer who is always on the look-out for an adventure.
Getting to know our national footballer
Q: Where is your area of residence?
A: Pasir Ris.
Q: How long have you resided in your neighbourhood?
A: I have been staying in Pasir Ris with my parents since I was young. I grew up there and attended schools nearby as well.
Q: What is the one thing you like most about your neighbourhood, a particular facility, food stall?
A: I love that my neighbourhood is quite peaceful. I think it was a good place for me to grow up. When I was younger, my childhood revolved a lot around playing at void decks with friends and cousins.
Q: What kind of sports would you play at the void decks?
A: I would always play sports that involved a ball of some kind such as bowling, pool, tennis and football. I learnt most of my sports through my friends. It’s good to have friends who are good at certain sports so you can learn from them and it is also feels great to be able to occasionally beat them at their own game!
Q: Your favourite hangout (within estate or outside)?
A: I like the Tampines area. Mostly because Tampines is a lot bigger than Pasir Ris, so there are a lot more amenities and 24hours cafes. I usually go to the cafe located near Tampines CC. If the area is too crowded on weekends, my friends and I will head to the 24hrs Starbucks at Tampines mall. Pasir Ris may be peaceful, but there isn’t much to do there.
Q: What childhood memory/place do you recall most fondly of?
A: My favourite place would definitely be the Tampines street soccer court where I learnt and honed my skills of football when I was young. It used to be located near the mosque and swimming complex. Sadly, it is no longer around.
Q: Do you know your neighbours well?
A: I have stayed in Pasir Ris my whole life but I did move once- from block 533 to 548. We get along well with our neighbours; we talk and sometimes also meet up with them. Now that they know I play for the national team, some of them even come up to greet me and express their support. It gives me a very special feeling.
Q: What drove you to your current sport?
A: I would attribute this to my late brother. He was the one who introduced the sport to me and taught me how to dribble and curl the ball. When I was younger, my older brother would always drag me to the void deck where he would practice free kicks with me as the goal keeper. Beyond that, I play football to continue his legacy and keep the memory of him alive.
Q: What is the most interesting memory you have when playing your sport?
A: It would be when I represented Singapore in Barcelona for Nike Chance. It was an eye-opener for me as I was 19 back then but was surrounded by other younger, European players who were a lot bigger and taller than me. It might have been intimidating initially but I still felt that I had an advantage over them in terms of speed, given my smaller build. I managed to reach the top 52 out of the initial 100 but sadly did not make it further than that. I was really disappointed.
Q: What is the most embarrassing moment you’ve had while playing your sport?
A: Last year during the AFC Suzuki Cup, the ball was passed to me and I should have controlled it but it ended up going through my legs. It was rather embarrassing. It does happen but I am usually not one to commit blunders like this. What made it worse was when seeing the disappointment from the fans and I felt that I let them down.
Q: Do you have any pre-game rituals before a major sporting event?
A: I usually pray and just have a good night’s rest as well as a proper meal. It is everyone’s pre-game ritual, with regards to having a good rest and meal, but it is important to me that I pray and remember that God is the one that will always look out for me.
Q: What was the best advice you were ever given?
A: My secondary school teacher from Loyang Secondary School, Miss Chua Yi Tian told me something I will never forget. I was quite a naughty kid back then and even made her cry once, though I subsequently apologized to her. But at the end of the day, she was the one that helped change me for the better. During my O level year, she told us that she was leaving the school and left each of us a personalized note. I still have the note with me. She told me that she was proud of me for playing for the National U-17 team and she also said that despite that, she still wants me to do well for my studies and make my parents proud. It was her that really made me realise the importance of studies in Singapore. I ended up successfully clearing my O levels and attended Temasek Polytechnic after to earn my diploma.
Q: What is your one food based guilty-pleasure?
A: It has to be wanton mee. Not just any wanton mee, but the one from Mr Teh Tarik. I tried a few other stalls but nothing measures up to that specific one. I can eat that all day.
Q: If you had the chance to have a superpower, which would you choose?
A: I would want to be able to teleport. To me, I really value alone time and also enjoy venturing out to new places. If I could teleport, I would be able to instantaneously bring myself to anywhere in the world to seek out new sights and spend some time alone. Hawaii would definitely be an option as I have heard it’s really nice there.
Q: How would you want the community to remember you by?
A: I want them to remember me as someone who is nice and helpful. If I see anyone in need, I will immediately go up to the person to help. Despite my help being rejected a few times before, it still does not deter me from helping others. Of course there is a risk of embarrassment if someone rejects your help, but to me it doesn't matter as much as being able to extend a helping hand.