Setting their sights on soccer

Four graduates who took up football studies speak about their experiences of pursuing an unusual programme.

IN the small, unassuming office of Cyberlynx International College’s (Cyberlynx) placement centre sat the four pioneer students who recently completed its Diploma in Football Studies programme, with big dreams and big hopes.

Two years ago, Mohd Ruffie, 22, Andrew Oon Yang Zheng, 28, Phan Thanh Minh Tuan, 25 and Yusri Khir Johari, 19, had taken up the programme with little expectations but they came away with in-depth knowledge, not only about football but about general sports management as well.

“I first read about the diploma course in a newspaper advertisement but did not know what to expect at that time because it is a new programme,” said Ruffie.

Cyberlynx is indeed the first college in Malaysia to offer the course, acting as the sole affiliate for the University of Bedfordshire (UB), Britain, for Malaysia.

“I think the diploma is a good starting point for those keen to pursue a career in the football industry, either locally or overseas,” said Oon.

“But we learnt more than just how to play football,” he added.

Ruffie agreed. They studied almost every aspect of football, from coaching and administration to managing a football team, he said, adding that 70% of the course comprised theory while the rest was practical training.

Areas of study included the business of football, coaching skills, sports development, injuries and issues as well as football and the media. On top of that, the students were also taught to play the game, and had to cope with assignments and exams.

“This course not only teaches you about football but also prepares you for a career in other sports,” said Oon.

“You learn how to be an intelligent football player, not just a good footballer. This is the professional way to embark upon a career in sports and achieve what you want,” he added.

When asked why the four students €” now the best of friends €” had opted to take up the unusual programme, all said that it was because of their passion for the game.

Football is my first, and primary, love, said Ruffie.

Oon, on the other hand, is more interested in the management of football, and wants to study that.

Tuan, who hails from Vietnam, said: “I joined the programme because I love football and I used to play for the youth team in Vietnam.”

He is confident that the diploma will be the launching pad to a career in this field.

Yusri, who won the Best Overall Student Award, admitted that it has always been his dream to go professional in football. To him, the course is unique because it allowed him to study and play at the same time.

All four students hope to pursue their careers in Britain upon completing their degree, though Ruffie intends to return to Malaysia and help develop the local football scene once he has enough experience.

They readily admitted that they were lucky to have supportive parents who accepted their decision to enter into this rather unconventional field.

The students have advice for those keen on pursuing the 2+1 programme, which requires students to complete the final year at UB in order to get a degree.

“If you feel that this is the career for you, go for it. But do some research first and find out more about job opportunities so that you can map out your career path. That way, you can better convince your parents,” said Oon.

“But you should think carefully first,” cautioned Tuan. “Studying football is not just going in and kicking a ball around. There is work to be done; it’s not as simple as it looks.”

“It may seem fun and easy, but it’s not,” agreed Ruffie.

“The thing is to stay focused,” said Oon.

Indeed, speaking to them, one can see that they have truly enjoyed the programme.

“Studying here has been a great experience. I made many friends and learnt so much from my coaches and lecturers,” said Tuan.

The next intake for Cyberlynx’s Diploma in Football Studies is Nov 3 (full-time) and Oct 13 (part-time). The part-time and fulltime programmes are of the same duration €” two years locally and one year in Britain. However, classes are conducted in the evenings, with practical training on weekends, in the fulltime programme.

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