Irfan And Ikhan Fandi Heading For Trials At Elite Portuguese Club
Does National Service (NS) get in the way of Singapore’s Sporting excellence? That was the subject of a recent debate that surfaced after Ben Davis’s unsuccessful deferment application.
But Fandi Ahmad’s two eldest sons may have settled the argument once and for all. Irfan and Ikhsan Fandi have both successfully secured trials at Portuguese top side, Sporting Braga.
And that’s after they completed their NS commitments.
Irfan, who turns 21 next month, was invited for another round of trials at the club. This comes after he spent two weeks with its Under-23 side last month.
And younger Ikhsan, who’s 19 this year, will join his older brother at the same club next week.
Braga is one Portugal’s top football clubs, hovering around the second to fifth position in the country’s Primeira Liga (or Liga NOS). The club has churned out its fair share of notable players, among them Eder, who now reps Lokomotiv Moscow.
The two brothers have long aimed to follow in their father’s footsteps and play in the top leagues of Europe.
In March this year, the brothers underwent a trial at Dutch club FC Groningen – where their father used to play in the 80s.
However, their wages proved to be a stumbling block as the Dutch football association requires Dutch football clubs to pay non-European Union players a higher basic salary to get a work permit.
Prior to his trial at Braga, Irfan also spent a week training with English Championship club Leeds United.
However, Irfan shared that he much preferred the style of play in Portugal which “involved a lot of the ball” as compared to the style in England, which he described as being “all about fitness and running”.
Irfan previously received offers from non-European clubs such as Bangkok Glass from Thailand, but has rejected them to play in Europe in mind.
NS not an obstacle
Like every fit Singaporean male, the Fandi brothers completed their National Service commitments and ORD-ed in February this year.
Irfan likely served under the Transport Security Command Force where he would have patrolled public transport vehicles and stations.
His younger brother served in the Singapore Armed forces (SAF) under an infantry regiment.
Are they living proof that it is possible to serve National Service and succeed as an athlete? Given their recent successes, it appears so.
And with programmes like the SAF Sportsmen Scheme, it’s easy to see how they did it.
The initiative allows servicemen-athletes to take paid leave to attend sports-related activities and is a boon to many sports stars, including Timothee Yap, a local sprinter who competed in the 2016 Olympics.
As they push ahead in their careers, we wish Irfan and Ikhsan all the best. We’re sure everyone in Singapore will be rooting for them.
Featured Image from FourFourTwo.