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Kecik (Small) Goes to Walking Football World Cup with Big Dreams

Walking Football4Health Singapore (WaF4H) is going to the first inaugural Walking Football World Cup, organized by the International Walking Football Federation in England this June 2019. Which better person to coach the group of men than 45-year old Masazhari Bin Yayit, otherwise known as Kecik.

Kecik’s name was given due to the fact that he is the youngest among his seven siblings. Kecik means small in Malay. His brother, 61-year old Masuri Bin Yayit, is also joining the competition but Kecik will be choosing the first-team fairly because of the reputation that he has gained throughout the many months that he has been coaching both the mens’ and the womens’ teams.

His reputation of being tough but fair during the teams’ trainings, yet being sensitive enough to the needs and wants of the group of players under his care, is a tough balancing act for any coach to handle. He has to balance the team’s aspirations to do well in England but also understand the previous health conditions that many of his team members have prior to joining the Walking Football program.

Kecik will understand this tough balancing act very well. Kecik has bounced back from a major health scare in 2006 when he could not even move his body properly due to slipped disc. Doctors attributed it to a very unhealthy lifestyle in which Kecik did not find the time to exercise properly as well as a bad smoking habit to boot.

The scare was good enough to for Kecik to re-prioritize the things he want in life and after a few years of committing to a good health program such as hitting the gym frequently, signing up for the WaF4H program as well as kicking the smoking habit, he is now in the pink of health.

Coach Kecik (right) with his Co- Trainer Masykur (left), both incidentally shares the same birthdate

Being the coach of WaF4H meant that Kecik had to undergo a Sports Diploma with International Sports Academy, an institution that collaborates together with Edith Cowan University. Dee Dee Mahmood is the Senior Adjunct Lecturer from the university and she was the one who also helped with rehabilitating Kecik’s fitness a few years back. With the support of Eunos CC as well,  Kecik coach both WaF4H men’s and women’s teams at least once a week, with his coaching partner, Masykur.

Kecik knows he has talented footballers at his disposal but they may be going up against ex-professional football players who may have played Walking Football seriously way before WaF4H started two years ago.

He said, “My advise for WaF4H is to make sure that we play as a team, which means as a unit that is very disciplined and willing to help each other because this is a team game.”

“If any one has a limitation, the other person must step up to cover that limitation and act as one strong team. Each player will have their own strengths and weaknesses, therefore everyone needs to understand the tactics and the pattern of play that I and my co-trainer (Masykur) has set because we will organize everyone in a system in which we are confident everyone can shine,” he added.

What is the special system or tactic that Kecik has devised for WaF4H?

“Looking at the fact that the tournament is organized during the Ramadhan (fasting) month, and many ex-professional soccer players are playing against us, we are strengthening the way we play tactically. What is the tactics that we are going to use? Well, you shall just have to see us in action then,” Kecik quipped.

Spoken like a true coach, someone who is not going to leak any secrets out before the big tournament.

He could, however, comment on other things such as the team’s level of preparations and the kinds of research that he did on his opponents. Things which any successful coach will be doing in order to do well in any football tournament.

He said, “During the match in Kuala Lumpur as part of the preparations (AFC Grassroots Football Day), I felt that the team’s individual fitness can be better but I do understand that the heat and humidity was energy sapping on the day itself. But the very fact that we had gotten a credible
 0-0 draw is a result we can all be proud of because we played against the Malaysian Legends and we were beaten by them 2-1 last year.

“After the match we decided to have extra trainings and the response from the players have been magnificent. Even though it is in the middle of the Ramadhan period. This shows the level of commitment that the team has in order to do well as a team.”

“England is going to be represented by ex-football professionals hence we will take it that the other teams are going to be represented strongly by players who have played the game professionally.”

“It is tough going up against such players. But we need a strong mindset that we can still take them on. We need to be disciplined, be willing to help each other out, have strong self-belief so that we can do well in the tournament. At the same time, also enjoy the moment and do the best that we can. It is going to be an experience that money can’t buy,” Kecik added.

Written By: Shahrom Asmani 
(ex-football reporter for several magazines and newspapers).
This 39-year old Football Crazy Person has been in love with football ever since he attended Singapore National Team’s matches at Kallang Stadium in the roaring 80’s. Has been a goalkeeper for a good part of the decade for a variety of teams but joined WaF4H last year because of the team’s mission and values.

WaF4H (Walking Football4Health) does not only allow participants to play football, holistically, the team concentrates on various other aspects as well such as food, nutrition and personal well-being. Hopefully WaF4H can lengthen this writer’s career, be it in the football field or in the part-time writing arena as well.

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