Not just a legend’s son
We caught up with the Nickelodeon’s Kids Choice Awards’ nominee, Irfan Fandi.
Football and a kids’ channel seem antonymous to each other, but that did not stop Singapore’s rising star, Irfan Fandi, from bagging a nomination for Nickelodeon’s 2016 Kids’ Choice Awards.
Youth.SG caught up with the towering 1.88 metre forward from Home United Football Club (HUFC), to find out more about his thoughts on the nomination, his future plans, and the impact his father has had on him as a footballer.
Bashful yet polite, Irfan was actually surprised to have been nominated for the Favourite Asian Sports Star award.
“I was pretty skeptical and thought it was a joke when my mother broke the news to me one morning, because I watched this show when I was young. It’s really an honour to be able to represent Singapore like this,” Irfan explained.
Albeit only 18, Irfan has already experienced football outside of Singapore, with a two-year stint at Universidad Catolica from the Chilean Primera Division.
The young footballer said: “I learned a lot from my experience there, and came back to Singapore for the SEA games. Now that I’m here, I also wish to complete my national service. Once I’m done with that, I might go back to Chile as I’ll still be at a peak age to play football by then.”
In the football world, it is every young footballer’s dream to play in Europe where world-class players from all over the world contest each other for glory.
Unless you are Korean or Japanese, it is rare for Asians, let alone Singaporeans, to play abroad – but that does not stop Irfan from dreaming big.
“If I don’t go back to Chile, I’ll start searching and going for trials in Europe. Any club is fine, to be honest, but I feel that as an Asian it would be great to enter the German or the Dutch leagues,” said Irfan, who is currently the youngest player in HUFC.
In Singapore football’s history, only two players have ever plied their trade in Europe – one of them being his father, Fandi Ahmad, who played for FC Groningen in the 1980s.
Irfan’s future already looks promising; he was named as one of Goal.com’s Top 20 Southeast Asian Rising Stars in 2013, and listed as one of the 40 best young talents in world football by The Guardian in 2014.
“These awards took a lot of pressure off me, because previously people saw me as Fandi Ahmad’s son and constantly compared me to him. It makes me happy that with these, people see me for who I really am,” said Irfan, who is currently attached to 21-year-old national silat member Nurul Suhaila Mohamed Saiful (sorry, ladies!).
How does it feel having a famous local footballer for a father?
The eldest son of Fandi Ahmad described: “He’s like our mentor – he raised us up, brought us to training, taught us everything we need to know. My father provides constructive criticism to help us improve our performances. He’s also looking out for us for better opportunities since he has so many connections.”
While he is simply not just a legend’s son, Irfan hopes to emulate his father to raise his family name and place Singapore on the radar.
“Where he went for a Singaporean was already fantastic. If I can do better, not only will it raise the Singapore flag, but it will also open a lot of doors for Asian footballers like me,” said Irfan, who is known for his aerial ability, speed, and strength.
As I left the interview, I had a feeling that we would be seeing a lot more of Singapore’s rising football star in the near future.