New beginnings: Former Singapore Under-23 skipper Al-Qaasimy steps away from professional football
Making the decision to call time on his footballing career wasn't easy for tough-tackling fullback Al-Qaasimy, because it was a move that would affect more than just him.
Al-Qaasimy's father Abdul Rahman had always played a big part in his son's footballing development - to the extent that he would become "angry or upset" whenever the ex-Geylang International defender entertained thoughts of retirement.
He cried upon knowing that I was called up to the national team in 2013 and I haven’t seen him cry in my entire life
“He is someone who's always been there in my football journey and I know it means a lot to him,” Al-Qaasimy told FourFourTwo.
“He cried upon knowing that I was called up to the national team in 2013 and I haven’t seen him cry in my entire life. I’ve always seen him as this really tough, strict guy like an army general but to see him cry, I can see how much it means to him.
That is exactly why ‘Qimmy’, as he is otherwise known, had shelved those plans in the past, before finally deciding to make the tough decision of hanging up his boots early this year.
Making his breakthrough with the Young Lions at a tender age of 18, Al-Qaasimy also turned out for the now-defunct LionsXII and in the S.League with Geylang.
On the international stage, Al-Qaasimy was part of the Singapore age group teams and was named skipper for the Young Lions’ SEA Games campaign on home soil in 2015. He made his Lions debut in an international friendly against Papua New Guinea in September 2014 and was later named in the Singapore squad for the AFF Suzuki Cup that year.
Signing for Geylang in 2016, Al-Qaasimy spent two fruitful years with the Eagles as he helped the Eastern giants attain a fourth-placed finish in the league last season - their best in a decade. To cap things off, he also netted his first-ever S.League goal in a 2-0 victory over Balestier Khalsa.
It wasn’t because I hated football, nor was it because I've lost my passion for football but purely because I have other interests outside
As such, it was not easy for the 25-year-old to eventually pluck up the courage to inform his father of the decision.
“Deep down, I'm sure he's a bit sad that I've decided to retire early,” Al-Qaasimy admitted.
“But I think he has surprisingly come to terms and become accepting enough to understand my decision. It wasn’t because I hated football, nor was it because I've lost my passion for football but purely because I have other interests outside. I told him it's for my long-term benefit and good for my future.
“He has never said ‘Yes, I'm agreeing to your decision’ but he's shown that he understands that it was purely a personal one and not because I was tired of football or anything like that.”
Having contemplated retirement from football when he was only 18, Al-Qaasimy insists this was not a choice made in haste.
“My decision to retire wasn't a sudden one. It’s actually something that has been carefully thought about and there were many factors that led to this, but everything boils down to job security and stability,” he said.
“It’s not as if I thought about this only last year, but it's something that’s been going on probably when I first started off. But I really thought about this during the off-season break and I had a lot of time to think about this at home."