Russell and Derrick hope to make it big at AJFC Southern region selections
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Russell Carl Nair and Derrick Chua Jingye are fitting testimony that football players may come in all shapes and sizes and it is the technical skill they possess that makes them stand out among their peers.
The two teenagers are among hundreds of hopefuls at The Allianz Junior Football Camp (AJFC) Malaysia League 2017 Southern Region selections in Melaka and show promising skills despite their stark physical differences.
Standing at 186cm, 15-year-old Russell from St. Francis Institution in Melaka is exceptionally tall for his age and can easily be spotted in the pitch. The Form 3 student plays as a goalkeeper for the Taming Sari Football Club and idolises Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas.
“I first started playing as a striker but felt I was much better at goalkeeping. A goalkeeper’s position is special because you are the last person to see everything before a goal and it is your defence that will save the team,” says the youngster who believes goalkeepers must have a loud voice to keep their team in check.
While Russell is a looming figure on the pitch, 14-year-old Derrick Chua’s stature is clearly no obstacle to the teenager whose speed on the pitch has not gone unnoticed by the coaches at the selections in the Southern Region.
At 151cm in height, the petite midfielder for Melaka Juniors may be small in size and physique but his determination in the game and ability to control the play makes him a delight to watch.
“I started playing football at the age of eight when my dad took me to the the Melaka Juniors Club. That was when I realised I liked football and have been playing the game ever since,” says the soft spoken teenager who hopes to play professional football someday.
Chua’s parents are his ardent supporters and follow him to watch all his games. The student from SK Chung Hwa in Malacca supports Liverpool and is an ardent fan of Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho.
The Allianz Junior Football Camp (AJFC) Malaysia League 2017 will take place between 18 March and 20 May 2017 at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi (Central region); Padang 10, Kompleks Sukan Hang Jebat, Malacca (South region); Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang (North region); Padang Majlis Perbandaran Kuantan and Kolej Islam Pahang Kuantan (East Coast region) and Padang Sukma, in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah (East Malaysia region). This year’s league format will remain an 11-sided affair played for 70 minutes.
The regional selection panel will then select the top 18 players from each region to form five regional teams that will compete in the Regional Finals. Following three days of centralised training, the five teams will go head to head to determine the winner at the Grand Final on 15 July 2017. At the culmination of the Grand Finals, 13 players will be selected to attend the AJFC Asia in Bali, Indonesia. At AJFC Asia, the best three players will be selected to attend AJFC in Munich, Germany.