It’s been exactly two since the University of Nottingham Malaysia Futsal Team had qualified for the IPT Premier League in Pahang. The UNM Futsal Team had little to no expectation in doing well in qualifications or even the IPT Premier League in Penang.

Two years later, this well-rounded team added an IPT Premier League Title under their belt along with being the first international university in Malaysia to win the title. The team was recognized as the best scoring team with 44 goals and the best defensive team conceding only 19 goals throughout the 11 games they played in the league. To add the cherry and icing to the cake, Captain Omar El-Shrweekh was voted “Best Player” of the tournament, and now the team has recently competed in the first phase of the IPT Super League.

It’s amazing to see the transformation of UNM Futsal that went from competing in local tournaments with limited resources to a well-established team that has grown to compete and prepare in a professional manner. As the second phase of the IPT Super League commences again after COVID-19 dies down, the question is, with everything that the team has achieved and has become, what is the future of this team?

With more investment going into the coaching staff, sporting attire, equipment and sponsorship to tournaments, the team is put under higher expectations and pressure to perform well. But even with all these investments going in and expectations of the team to produce results, Omar is confident that there is a sense of pressure felt among the players. According to Omar, at the end of the day regardless of what league they were in or what kind of equipment they were handed, its always about playing the game they loved and having fun.

Pressure was felt even more during the tournaments they competed in recently because of how far they’ve come and the quality they are expected to deliver. But what truly contributed to their success according to Omar was the spirit of all the past and current players of the team and as well as the dedication from the sport management. A notable figure is “Amir Najib ”, a current sport management staff of UNM that provided the turning point from the university’s end. Before Amir there was no IPT, with his contribution he made it easier for the team when it comes to registrations, paperwork and locating tournaments for the players to compete in.

In preparation for Phase 1 for the IPT Super League in Terengganu February 2020, Omar spoke about the changes they had to adapt to in training especially when it came to the new players replacing old players who were recently a part of the IPT Premier League winning team. The future of the club’s main concern is replicating their quality of performance in Penang since the new players don’t have the similar experiences competing at a high level compared to the veteran players. However, with good coaching and veteran players still competing, there is no doubt that this team can overcome challenge that they are currently facing.

As more players seek to be part of this team, Omar shared his advice on how new upcoming players can be successful. He emphasized on the importance of prioritizing: young students would want to try out everything in University but it’s not possible to do everything. Players that perceive futsal as their top priority would find that this futsal team is the right path for them. The team has built a family where everyone succeeds because of each other and this is because of their common love and dedication towards the sport. Omar and Michael (UNM Futsal Goalkeeper) encourage young players starting off that committing to training will go a long way; you will learn things about yourself that you didn’t know about, you’ll improve on your time management skills and how to take care of your body. You may not start off as a great player but over time you’ll see major improvements according to Michael. Choosing to be a part of this team is more than just futsal, it’s also about being a member of a close-knit family and to improve yourself in order to become a well-rounded person and athlete.

I hope that the three installments of this piece have helped you realize that you don’t have to be the best or the biggest to do something great, as long as you have the passion and dedication to do it. Anyone is capable of greatness. There will be setbacks along your journey but those setbacks are necessary for you to succeed and to grow as a person. Prioritize your time around what’s important and make the necessary sacrifices to achieve those goals, it will go a long way and you might even surprise yourself on what you’re capable of. 

Dream big and stay safe.

Written by Gabriel Lucman