Isa Haleem at work. Photo: Isa Haleem
Isa Haleem, an ActiveSG Football Academy and SportCares coach, was brought up the old school way where discipline meant everything. He used to compare his upbringing with others when he was younger but now, he realises how it has shaped his life for the better.
Isa shared: “I strongly agree that discipline brings structure and a form of system to guide us. It also leads us to do the right things, mixing with the right company and also promoting good behaviour. When the environment is set as such, the pathway is very clear and I believe more good things will come from there.”
He added: “I’ve seen many youths that have started to mature into young adults and buying into the path of being disciplined. When they do so, things change and not just sporting wise, but also their character towards life, becoming a better human being; getting a good job and supporting their families.”
Isa has been working with SportCares for seven years and counting, as well as four years coaching for the ActiveSG Football Academy.
When asked why he became a coach, Isa said: “It is cliché but it was like a second calling for me. I have always aspired to be a teacher and I love football, so what better way to combine the both. Apart from that, I feel that there is an abundance of untapped talents out there, but just without the proper guidance and I believe that I can assist them to reach their full potential and develop them further.”
So what kind of coach is he in the eyes of his charges?
Isa and his ActiveSG Football Academy charges. Photo: Isa Haleem
Isa would rather leave that to his players to judge but he feels that he is a strict, firm and no-nonsense coach. However, he does wear different hats for different occasions and there is a softer side to him too.
To Isa, sports is a powerful tool as it acts as a medium to bring all the youths together for a common goal. The best part about sports is that it has no boundaries; you can achieve limitless success with different objectives and it can definitely empower our youths, thereby enhancing their leadership qualities.
When asked how he encourages kids who are not as talented, Isa shared: “Football is for everyone. Every kid has a different way of learning and some might not learn as quickly. Motivation and encouragement are vital and that will build up your interaction with the kids, when they feel motivated and positive, gradually they will pick it up and improve along the way. It is always easy when they feel inspired to learn more even if they are not as skillful as their team mates. They have to work hard to keep on practicing till they get there.”
Isa has seen kids who have started slow, however, with constant motivation and determination, they eventually get better than their peers.
Photo: Isa Haleem
I always stick true to this saying 'Talent and skills wins you games, but teamwork, determination and intelligence wins you championships' by Michael Jordan, who never made it to his high school team but went on to be the greatest basketball player ever.
Isa’s proudest moment as a coach was seeing his players becoming better individuals not just in football, but also doing well in life and upholding the very same values they went through as players.
His advice for aspiring coaches out there: “Well, it’s definitely not rainbows and butterflies every day in your coaching job. Challenges will always keep knocking on your door. Just keep working hard, try different methods relevant to the current generation and most importantly, you got to enjoy what you are doing!”
For parents who are considering sending their kids to sport academies, Isa had this to say: “Do not think twice, send your kids and expose them to the different sports and allow them to be outdoors rather than glued to their handheld devices! Engagement in sports builds their self-esteem and confidence and it is proven to help them to excel academically too.”
Gary Yang is a myActiveSG Editor and Presenter. Gary started his career as a suit cum copywriter at an advertising agency, followed by a successful stint in Corporate Communications with Singapore Press Holdings and Asia Pacific Breweries, before eventually joining the editorial team at Sport Singapore. He now turns his attention to fitness and wellness headlines and sniffing out news angles in the sporting arena. Follow Gary on Instagram @thisisgaryyang
Led by former Singapore international Aleksandar Duric, the ActiveSG Football Academy offers a holistic football programme which is designed to build character and encourage children and youth to pursue their sporting passion with the right attitude. Find out more here.
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