Fabio Da Silva: The former S.League man who brought the samba football to school

Following their A Division final triumph earlier this year, Meridian Junior College (MJC) have clinched the title an unprecedented four times in a row. FourFourTwo speaks to former S.League player and Brazilian coach Fabio da Silva who helped turn a fledgling side into a footballing powerhouse….

With nine titles in 13 years - Fabio Da Silva has an impressive resume which would leave most football coaches green with envy.

More remarkably, the Brazilian has had to build his legacy from scratch, having been MJC coach since 2005, when both the school and football team were only in its second year.

They were hungry to make it to the top four, which was the target for us in the first year

- Fabio Da Silva

“The first thing I noticed was the desire of the boys to improve and bring glory to the school," Da Silva told FourFourTwo. "They were hungry to make it to the top four, which was the target for us in the first year.

"In the end, we were able to clinch the championship, which was a pleasant surprise for me, given how new the team was and the quality of the opponents in the division.”

Not many schools can boast having a Brazilian footballer as their coach, but MJC have had the privilege of having Da Silva teach them the beautiful game with a touch of Samba flair.

“We like to play fast football, getting the ball into dangerous areas in the opponents' half as quickly as possible," said Da Silva. "In the right moments, I like to see my players express themselves and showcase their individual abilities as well.”

Da Silva in action for Police FC

A firm believer in allowing his players to express themselves on the field with their individual talents, Da Silva also instills in every one of his players the importance of having a winning mentality going into every game.

But, values such as discipline and commitment remain key to the team's success.

What he looks for in a player include discipline, desire to play and a good attitude above anything else

With local schools being allowed to take in students through the Direct School Admission (DSA) program every year, Da Silva has the opportunity to choose prospective players whom he feels will benefit the team.

Traits he looks for includes discipline, desire to play and a good attitude above anything else. His decision on players he wants also depends on what he feels the weaker areas of his squad lie and how they can help to improve the team.

Apart from A Division success, some of Da Silva's players have gone on to greater things in the Prime League and S.League.

Take Hougang United's Justin Hui for instance - who recently netted for the Cheetahs in his first league start. Hui skippered MJC to their A Division title in May this year.

Hougang's Justin also skippered MJC to their title win this year

“His desire to play football at the highest level is second to none and he definitely has the quality to play in the S.League," noted Da Silva. "It is very hard for A Division players to play at such a level, so I hope he can be an inspiration, for all student-athletes to follow in his footsteps."

With the rise of players such as Hui, Da Silva hopes this trend can change in the future and fully encourages players to pursue their passion - having being an S.League player himself back in the day.

[NEXT: Applying the past to the present]