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Serangoon Garden Secondary School Football Academy: Life comes full circle for alumni, now SFA coach

In a heartwarming twist of fate, Serangoon Garden Secondary School is set to welcome back one of its own, Fahrish Khan, not as a student on the football field but as a mentor and coach.

Having once donned the school's football jersey, Fahrish's journey has come full circle, as he returns to his alma mater, bringing with him a wealth of experience and passion for the sport.

His evolution from a talented student-athlete to a coach signifies a personal triumph and a testament to the nurturing environment of Serangoon Garden Secondary School (SGSS).

Serangoon Garden Secondary School ‘C’ Division team and Teacher-In-Charge partnering with our School Football Academy to create a holistic learning environment for the youth. Photo by Ng Chrong Meng.

The school, which was first founded in 1959, is one of Singapore's oldest schools and is located in the Serangoon North.  One of its most famous alumni is Singapore’s footballing legend, Fandi Ahmad, who attended the school 1970s. Most recently, it has also seen other alumni who have represented Singapore at the youth level, like Fahrish, who captained the school from 2009-2013.

During his playing school years under his coach Selva Kumar, Fahrish was nicknamed “Raul” by his teammates, after Real Madrid’s forward, Raul Gonzalez. Fahrish was among the key players in his team with him finishing as top goalscorer for the competition in 2010. Fahrish also played for Singapore Premier League side Tampines Rovers along with Singapore International Taufik Suparno’ Under-16 team under head coaches Satria Ahmad and Norhalis Shafik. 

He caught the eye of national selectors and was drafted into the National Football Academy’s (NFA) Under-17 and Under-18 teams, under head coach Saswadimata Dasuki.

Fahrish Khan (First row, first from right) representing Serangoon Garden Secondary School as part of their overseas training stint. Photo by Teacher of Serangoon Garden Secondary School.

Said Fahrish: “I feel proud that I got to represent my school. I also credit the teachers and coach Selva, who both helped me as a student and footballer. They also reminded me of values like perseverance and giving my best, especially when I represented SGSS. Other virtues like respect and a never-say-die attitude, were key drivers that pushed me to get an opportunity with NFA. Who would have thought a journey with SGSS would allow me the opportunity to dorn national team colours?”. 

Unfortunately, an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear halted Fahrish’s progress in the NFA.Though Fahrish recovered and signed with Singapore Premier League side Geylang International U21s, his injury would prove to be his biggest nightmare. Right after signing his professional contract with Geylang and being promoted to the first team, he would again tear his ACL in a pre-season friendly against the Philippines’ Ceres Negros

But buoyed by his love for football, Fahrish was unperturbed by setbacks in his pursuit of the sport. His talents would then bring him to represent Singapore internationally again. First by helping set up and being a part of Singapore’s Teqball federation in 2021. Subsequently, he helped create the first-ever Teqball Challenger League for the community before representing Singapore in Teqball at the 2023 SEA Games.

Former Serangoon Garden Secondary School footballer Fahrish Khan is back, now coaching a new generation of young talent. Photo by Ng Chrong Meng.

Added Fahrish: “Football has always been a part of my life and I felt that since my days at SGSS, it provided me with the virtues to succeed. Without hesitation, I knew that coaching was the next step and I would like to give back to the community. Hence in 2022, I took and completed my Asian Football Confederation C Licence in 2023.”

Life indeed came full circle when in 2023, upon the completion of his C Licence course, Fahrish was accepted as part of Unleash the Roar! School Football Academy (SFA) coaching set-up for SGSS in 2024. Fahrish is now an assistant coach of SGSS alongside head coach, Nasaruddin Jalil, a former Singapore international and formerly of Singapore Premier League club Balestier Khalsa FC, where he spent close to two decades across various coaching roles.

Said Fahrish: “Who would have thought that a former player would get a chance to go back to where it began? Despite all my setbacks, I believed that things happen for a reason and to get to meet my former teachers and a familiar setting, I could not have asked for more. I want to inspire the next generation, just like how Fandi Ahmad inspired me to push myself to be the very best footballer I can ever be. The values of SGSS resonate in me, from hard work and never-say-die attitudes, which are values I’d want to instil in the players. Who knows after Fandi and Fahrish, there could be another footballer that gets to be a part of our national set-up?”

For head coach Nasaruddin, working alongside Fahrish has provided the student-athletes with many opportunities not only to grow in football but also their life values.

Said Nasaruddin: “Together with Fahrish and the support received, I hope that not only are we able to help our boys achieve what they dream of in football, either as a platform for future success or presently, but also pick up life skills like teamwork and respect, which they can grow as individuals and apply throughout their lives. I would also want to give my best to provide the youngsters the developmental opportunities as they will learn and develop most when young.”

Our School Football Academy Head Coach Nasaruddin Jalil (middle) with Assistant Coach Fahrish Khan (left) and Goalkeeper Coach Wen Weiliang (right) sharing footballing tips with the Serangoon Garden Secondary School youth footballers. Photo by Ng Chrong Meng.

David Kwong, teacher-in-charge of the SGSS football team, said that such collaborations like the SFA and having two dedicated coaches on staff can only strengthen the school’s ecosystem. He said: “Besides the full-time coaches who are working closely with the school for their holistic development, the SFA league is also something we are keen on as it provides opportunities for all of our players, who might have limited game time during the National School Games (NSG).

“We are also excited to see our boys' development, who will be led for the very first time by the SFA coaches for the NSG C Division. With our students now being student-athletes, they can rest assured that the school staff will continue to check their academic progress regularly and that the school remains committed to helping them achieve academically.”

Fahrish's return to school as a football academy coach is a significant moment for him and the institution. Having pursued his football aspirations beyond the school gates, Fahrish now stands as a living embodiment of the school’s commitment to fostering holistic development. His journey, marked by dedication and perseverance, serves as an inspiration for the aspiring footballers under his guidance. 

Story by: Mashidayat Maszeni

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