Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Uni grads shun rat race to chase dreams - ST(7 Feb 2011)

ONE has an economics degree and is working at the Ministry of Law. The other is an aerospace engineering graduate with no lack of options in the aircraft industry.

But, as far as NUS graduate Sudhershen Hariram and NTU alumnus Benedict Low are concerned, the future can wait.

Later this month, the pair will chase their S-League dream with Tanjong Pagar United, leaving behind potentially lucrative careers in their fields of study.

Their decision - derided at first by both family and friends - is a considered one. Football may not pay as much as their potential careers, but for them, passion is a priceless commodity.

'I've spent most of life doing what's expected of me, studying in a junior college, serving my national service and going to university,' said Low, who graduated from the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) last year. 'It's about time I did something I want to do, and that is to play football professionally.'

Low, a tough-tackling centre-back who models himself after Japanese World Cup midfielder Yasuhito Endo, and Sudhershen, a flying winger with both pace and stamina, were playing for their respective university sides when they were spotted by Jaguars coach Terry Pathmanathan.

In Sudhershen's case, he will make time for football while undergoing his internship at the Ministry of Law. He has applied to study law at the National University of Singapore later this year, and will be stretched for time as he juggles work, study and sport.

But the 24-year-old is inspired by the example of his friend Fabian Tan, the Gombak United defender who also grappled with university studies while playing professional football.

'He said it's tough, but worthwhile,' said Sudershen. 'This is an opportunity for me to realise my dream and I get paid while doing it. I have to give it a shot.'

The S-League is a road less travelled for better-educated Singaporeans. Since the league's inception, only a handful of players - like Home United goalkeeper Lionel Lewis and Tan - can boast university credentials.

In committing his future to sports, Low - the eldest of three children - had to overcome resistance from his father. Said the 25-year-old: 'His initial reaction was that it wasn't the best move for me. But he said it's my life and I had to decide what to do with it.'

Neither player would reveal their salary package with Tanjong Pagar, but the two S-League newbies are keen to put football ahead of monetary rewards. Said Low: 'You won't be rich, but you won't go hungry, and I'm okay with that.'

Both Sudhershen and Low are untested qualities in the league, but they have fitness and desire on their side. According to Pathmanathan, the duo passed their mandatory Beep Test at the first try, with Low securing the best score in the squad.

'Both of them work very hard and they mingle very well with all the other boys,' said the former national captain.

'I'm very impressed with their work attitude. Technically they can improve over time, but the important thing is that they are willing to work for the team.'
-article taken off ST 7 Feb 2011

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