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Khairul Anwar special needs

Singapore's Beckham dips his toes into coaching

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Dubbed Singapore's very own David Beckham after five goals from range at the ASEAN Para Games (APG), Team Singapore cerebral palsy (CP) football captain Khairul Anwar has become a household name since.

But despite the hype and buzz, the 30-year-old has not let fame detract him from his long term goal of becoming a sports coach. He has instead put his focus on his studies, working towards a future in sports science

Khairul Anwar

Khairul Anwar in action during training at Queenstown Stadium. Photo: Sport Singapore

The Republic Polytechnic (RP) student has found himself a 5-month internship with the Singapore Sports Institute in the Coaching Development Department, which he hopes will instill in him the skills necessary to be a top notch coach.

Currently, Khairul spends his time facilitating the renewal of coaching licenses, supporting coaches in terms of administration and coaching programmes, and in doing so, he is also learning more about the different aspects of sports science. 

Khairul Anwar

Khairul Anwar is currently interning at the Singapore Sports Institute. Photo: Sport Singapore

“I am interested in sports science. I didn't get the course in RP but I am interested in it. The good thing is that even though I am in coaching development, I am learning from everyone here in the office. Be it bio-mechanics, be it nutrition, or analytics,” Khairul said.

His interest in sports science stemmed from a personal experience with an exceptional sports trainer during his team's participation in the AFC Dream Asia Cerebral Palsy Tournament 2012.

“There was this sports trainer attached to us - Mohd Azhar Bin Mohd Idros. I was with him most of the time during our first ever trip to Abu Dhabi. So from there I gained a lot of knowledge in terms of sports science, especially anatomy, bio-mechanics and how muscles work.”

Sports science has helped Khairul significantly in his own playing career, and he hopes to use this knowledge to help other people maintain a fit and healthy body.

“I actually do some personal training with my schoolmates in RP. I give them weight-loss exercise programmes and it actually works. Some of them have muscle tension here and there, and I just attend to them.”

While Khairul is pursuing his passion in sports science, the national captain is still closely involved in the CP football and meets his team every week for training. 

Khairul Anwar

Khairul Anwar in action with his teammates during training. Photo: Sport Singapore

Since the APG, he has seen awareness and participation in CP football grow tremendously, and with that awareness, he now feels that they are larger part of society.

“In terms of the awareness and recognition of CP Football, it has changed a lot. Wherever I go, everyone recognizes myself and some of my teammates,” he said.

“There's a big change in terms how people look at people who are physically challenged. In the past, when I was growing, people discriminate and they didn't want to make friends with me.

“But now, there is not much of a difference. There is a change of how people look at us. Actually people come to us, and want to know more about what's happening.”

But even with this heightened awareness of para sports, Khairul said he still hopes to see more being done for disability and para sport in Singapore.

“APG itself has done a lot to change some of the athletes' life, but what's next?” he asked. “We need to have more events in Singapore. We went to Myanmar and we got 2nd but no one knows. We got 3rd in APG in Singapore, but there is so much more publicity here.”