Im­ran’s Rus­sian ad­ven­ture

New Straits Times - - SPORT - Zul­faizan Man­sor

TEENAGER Im­ran Zakaria is thank­ful that he joined the Foot­ball For Friend­ship (F4F) pro­gramme even though it will see him cel­e­brat­ing Hari Raya away from fam­ily and friends.

Im­ran, 16, said he gained much in­for­ma­tion and knowl­edge es­pe­cially when he was tasked with coach­ing one of the 32 teams in­volved in the pro­gramme.

He is thank­ful to the FA of Malaysia and spon­sors PJSC Gazprom for se­lect­ing him and com­pa­triot Lau­ren Hoh, 12, for the friend­ship pro­gramme since June 8, and which will end to­day.

"I do feel a tinge of sad­ness be­cause I will not be able to cel­e­brate the first day of Hari Raya with my fam­ily and friends.

‘But I know the ex­pe­ri­ence is in­valu­able, and I will also get a chance to watch the first World Cup match at the sta­dium.

"This pro­gramme has also taught me the value of team­work, and be­com­ing a coach is a very heavy re­spon­si­bil­ity as when a team fail, the coaches get the blame first.

"Right now, I am more fo­cused on be­com­ing a foot­ball player, and will think about a coach­ing career at a later stage of my life.”

Im­ran and Lau­ran watched the open­ing World Cup match be­tween Rus­sia and Saudi Ara­bia at Sta­dium Luzh­niki yes­ter­day.

Lau­ren was as­signed as a jour­nal­ist to cover not only the Foot­ball For Friend­ship pro­gramme, but also the World Cup open­ing match.

"My ex­pe­ri­ence as a cub jour­nal­ist was re­ally chal­leng­ing as I had to face many peo­ple and ask ques­tions. The pro­gramme also taught me the mean­ing of friend­ship and to­geth­er­ness even though we were all from dif­fer­ent back­grounds and re­li­gions," said Lau­ren.

Im­ran Zakaria

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