Shahrin to lead Young Lions by example on and off the field

From being dropped for the 2010 Youth Olympic Games to being named the current Garena Young Lions captain, Shahrin Saberin’s career has come full circle. But the 22-year-old is not resting on his laurels just yet…  

While the likes of Hanafi Akbar and Muhaimin Suhaimi were the toast of the nation for their thrilling displays at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games (YOG), one boy had to sit in the stands and wonder what could have been.

Shahrin was in the national under-15 back then but failed to make the cut for the 18-strong squad named by Kadir Yahaya for the competition proper.

Moving on from that disappointment, the youngster joined Warriors FC’s Under-16s and progressed through the ranks to play for their Prime League side.

In 2014, he joined the Singapore Cubs (national under-19s) that played in the Prime League, before signing for Home United a year later.

That was where he got his big break to play in the S.League under Philippe Aw in the last few rounds of the 2015 season, before becoming a first-team regular alongside Abdil Qaiyyim at the heart of the Protectors defence in 2016.

Now, he’s back in the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) setup and is set to lead the Young Lions at the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Kuala Lumpur.

Reflecting on his route into the national team, Shahrin is thankful to those who helped him along the way.

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Shahrin hopes to continue his growth as a footballer

“It’s been a good rise for me because the people who believed in me and gave me opportunities to show my abilities, such coach Philippe and (Home Prime League) coach Bernard Lan,” he told FourFourTwo.

“My time at Home went so well because of the positive surroundings within the team. Having senior players to guide me along was one of the key reasons for me to always give 100 percent in trainings and matches.

“Indeed, it has been a long way, but maybe missing YOG was a blessing in disguise for me.”  

Indeed, it has been a long way, but maybe missing YOG was a blessing in disguise for me

Entrusted with the Young Lions captaincy, Shahrin is unfazed and intends to lead by example both on and off the field.

“Of course, the responsibilities now are much bigger as compared to last season, but I believe it’s good for me as a player and also a chance for me to step up and show my leadership qualities,” said the sturdy centre-back.

“On the field, it’s about being more vocal and to encourage my teammates to always give their 100 percent.

“Off it, it’s the way you do things which will speak for itself – that’s what I’ve learned from my past captains like Abang (Malay slang for brother) Maat (Juma’at Jantan) and Abang Noh (Rahman).”

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Shahrin is grateful to his seniors for guiding him to where he is now

With the SEA Games coming up in August, the Young Lions have decided to do away with “over-age” players like Khairul Amri, Firdaus Kasman and Fareez Farhan – instead solely concentrating on this group of under-22 players.

The likes of Fashah Iskandar, Dhukhilan Jeevamani, Amirul Adli and Hami Syahin stayed, while in came promising players from other clubs like Hairul Syirhan, Hafiz Sulaiman and Shahrin himself.

Shahrin believes this crop of players can do better than the class of 2016, which accumulated the club’s lowest-ever points tally and finished bottom, and gain proper momentum for the SEA Games.

For me personally, I’m stoked for the new season because I’ve just completed my National Service last December so this is going to be my first official year as a full-time footballer

“I’m confident that we can definitely produce better results and performances than last year, because I can see everyone fighting really hard in pre-season to make the first eleven,” he said. “It’s a small sign of something great that’s going to happen in the coming months and we can definitely rise to the occasion.

“For me personally, I’m stoked for the new season because I’ve just completed my National Service last December so this is going to be my first official year as a full-time footballer.

“It’s important that we take one match at a time. While the focus is on SEA Games, we have to do well in the league as well to boost our confidence before going to the international stage, which is definitely much tougher.”

Photos: FAS