Off the Pitch with... Shahrom Kalam

To kickstart our new section, Off the Pitch, where we interview M-League players about their daily lives outside football, we chat with Selangor defender Shahrom Kalam...

Most of you know him as the current captain of Selangor in the Malaysian Super League, but did you know that Shahrom Kalam is actually working for Maybank? It certainly seems like a rather unglamorous job, considering that the former Perak and Kuala defender should be earning quite a lot as a footballer. However, he has his own reason, as he tells FourFourTwo Malaysia...

How did you begin working for Maybank?

When I was playing for Kuala Lumpur 10 years ago, Maybank approached a few of the local players including myself to join an interbank tournament. At the same time, they offered us an opportunity to work for them. As I had a diploma in Business Management, I decided to take up their offer.

What exactly do you do?

I work in a subdivision of their human resources department and I am tasked to recruit new sportspeople for the company and organise sporting events every year. And if Maybank has any sports-related events, I will act as their sports personality if they ask me to.

Being a professional player, how do you balance between football and work?

I don’t; I have been taking unpaid leaves for the past 10 years. [Laughs]

Wait, how does it work?

Basically Maybank has a subdivision consisting of current and former sportspeople. We can go to work as usual, but we can also take unpaid leaves to concentrate on our careers. As far as I know, we are the only bank to do so. So, like I said, I have been taking quite a lot of unpaid leaves since I joined them.

That’s not work.

[Laughs] ‘Tak boleh cakap macam tu’ (You cannot say like that)! I still go to the Maybank Tower at the end of the year after every football season is over to report myself and do some work.

And your boss is okay with that?

My boss is very understanding and fully supportive of my playing career. It’s a win-win situation for both sides, as I get to safeguard my future after I retire and they get to have me in an ambassadorial role for them in the M-League.

"The best boss ever"

But isn’t the whole arrangement a bit weird?

Look, football is a short career. If you’re a professional player playing at the highest level, you can perhaps play until you are around 35 years old. Money in football is good, but what happens after you retire? So, when Maybank offered me the position, I knew it would allow me to support my family once my football career is over.

Are you the only active footballer in the office?

No, there’s also Fadzley Rahim, who is playing as a goalkeeper for Sarawak. We used to have a few more active players around, but they have since left the company. Besides footballers, we also have other sportspeople such as Nor Saiful Zani [former national hockey captain] and M. Ramachandran [former national athlete].

Since you’ve already planned so ahead in life, does it mean that you won’t be considering a coaching or managing role after you retire?

Not necessarily. Even if I become a coach or a manager in the future, I can still retain my position at Maybank because the company has never forbid its sportspeople from participating in sports. For instance, Richard Scully is also from Maybank and, just like how I do, he takes unpaid leaves to carry out his duty as Harimau Muda coach.

Which is easier: working in an office or playing football in front of a full stadium?

The latter, of course. Football is my passion and will forever be my #1.