HOW many teenagers can say they’ve gotten professional football coaching from an English Premier League club?
Well, for Mohd Azmizan Ruslih and Muhamad Nur Aiman Omran, both 17, it was an opportunity not to be missed as they – alongside Nattanan Biesamrit from Thailand and Ren Wei from China – recently travelled to London, the United Kingdom for a one-week AirAsia-Queens Park Rangers (QPR) Coaching Clinic.
These four lucky lads are some of the best in the region.
The coaches from the club’s charitable arm, QPR in the Community Trust, handpicked the teens last year after visiting five cities – Bangkok, Guangzhou, Beijing, Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu.
The winners scored themselves a complete experience of what it takes to be a young player at the QPR Academy.
During the coaching clinic, Azmizan and Aiman, managed to train with coaches at the academy.
They described the experience as very different and more technical compared to the training they received with their own school teams.
“While training at the QPR Academy, they talked about how important small movements like controlling the ball and passing are, because a small mistake can affect the ball’s possession and you might lose it to your opponent,” said Aiman, a Victoria Institution student, who plays the center back position.
“The facilities at the academy are also very well-rounded, especially the gym. The coaches examined my muscles before telling me which machines to use and what exercises to do to strengthen my muscles.”
The coaching clinic marks Azmizan’s first overseas trip.
The student of SMK Datuk Peter Mojuntin in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, revealed the training got progressively more challenging as they also trained with the under 15, 16 and 17 players from the academy.
All the training was to prepare them for their friendly match against a local team, Tombridge Angels, where they won 13-3! Azmizan scored a hat-trick while Ren Wei pocketed a goal for QPR Academy.
As they were only there for a week, chief executive officer of QPR in the Community Trust, Andy Evans stressed that it’s crucial that they learn as much as possible.
To help them remember what they’ve learned, the coaches introduced the idea of having a journal.
The boys, as well as the other young players at the academy, had to jot down notes about their training sessions and review their performance through training analysis.
This is so they will have a complete record of every single session, and they can refer to it and replicate it when they’re in Malaysia.
During one of their training analysis sessions, the boys received a surprise visit from QPR manager Chris Ramsey.
“We were at our analysis and one of the coaches was demonstrating how to perfect a certain move. Suddenly Chris Ramsey walked in.
Everyone just sat there in silence. He took over the analysis, showed us some moves and coached us,” said Aiman.
Ramsey was impressed with the boys because he understood it must be hard for them to fly so far away and adapt to a new environment.
“This would probably be very different from what they’ve experienced before. I think with this, they can open their minds to what’s beyond where they’re playing now and learn so much more,” he added.
The boys were appointed pre-match guards of honour at the QPR match against Everton on March 22.
Although the club lost the match, Ramsey remains hopeful that his players have the ability to get the points they need to make it to the next premier league.
And it’s important that they do!
“We want to maintain premiership status and it’s important that we play in the highest league so any young players who come into the club, can play against the best teams in the country,” said Ramsey.
With their new knowledge on strategy, healthy eating and strength and conditioning, Azmizan and Aiman hope to improve their game on the field and to teach their fellow teammates everything they picked up in London.
QPR in the Community Trust coach Stephen McCarthy said the boys are not lacking much compared to the boys at the academy. In fact, their standards are really high.
“We chose Aiman and Azmizan during the coaching clinic tours in Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu because they showed determination,” said McCarthy.
“It was extremely hard for us to pick one from each clinic but they are talented, and they’ve shown good attitude and discipline during the training session. So, they have proven that we made the right choice.”
McCarthy, who was one of the coaches who toured Malaysia, Thailand and China, mentioned the difference between young Asian players and British players is that English kids are physically bigger and stronger because the academy has a strength and conditioning department.
But that doesn’t really matter because in teams like FC Barcelona, there are a lot of physically small players who are intelligent. And that’s what they’re looking for – clever players.
Apart from techniques like ball control and passing, of course.
Ramsey, on the other hand, felt that while a player’s physicality is important, he also has to be good with the ball. If a player has this skill to begin with, everything else can be taught.
Now that the coaching clinic is done and dusted, Azmizan and Aiman hope they can take their football career far and perhaps play for Malaysia or a club abroad.
As for QPR in the Community Trust and the academy, Evans said they’d continue to monitor and track the boys’ progress.
And because of the club’s ownership, they are in a position to keep in touch with the boys and the clubs they play for to see how they’re doing and try to help them realise their dreams of becoming professional footballers.