Interviews

Work hard, play hard: Hafiz Osman, the full-back passing on the fitness inspiration

In this month’s Work Hard, Play Hard, former Warriors FC defender Hafiz Osman opens up to FourFourTwo about how an career-threatening injury sustained six years ago ultimately led him to take up a post-footballing career as a fitness trainer...

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'You might not play again' are the words that every footballer dreads hearing, and they were being uttered to Hafiz Osman as he lay on the treatment table at the doctor's office close to six years ago.

Hafiz, a Tanjong Pagar player at the time, had sustained an injury after an aerial duel in a game against Home United, and landed awkwardly on his left foot.

I couldn’t feel my leg. I went back home and though everything was normal but I realised my left leg was not moving

- Hafiz Osman

“I tried to get up and fell back down," the 33-year-old told FourFourTwo. "I couldn’t feel my leg."

Unknown to Hafiz, he had ruptured his achilles tendon.

And the bad news didn't stop there. As Hafiz went through the recovery process, he was hit with another blow.

“I realised that my leg still had problems so I went for another MRI and the doctor told me that another part of my tendon had ruptured,” recalled Hafiz. “The doctor said that (the chances) this happens (was) one in a million. I almost fainted. Then, I was 60 per cent sure on giving up football.”

Hafiz spent over ten years in total at Warriors. Photo: S.League

This was perhaps the tipping point for the defender. Having heard the stomach-churning news, Hafiz's confidence suffered.

“I went for surgery, then after that I had the f*** care mentality. I put on 10 kilograms … I went to 70-80 kilos,” he revealed.

I was almost giving up … When everyone went out to have fun I wanted stay home

- Hafiz Osman

“I had 'depression', I gave up everything and kept binge eating. I was almost giving up … When everyone went out to have fun I wanted stay home.”

“But I have to say I was thankful to have Fizah (Nurhafizah Sujad national team physiotherapist) as well as my wife who motivated me to work hard. I lost the 10 extra kilograms after four months following the surgery.”

The final hurdle was yet to come, as the doctors once again found something unusual in Hafiz’s tendon and had to close it up.

Thankfully for Hafiz, help came in the form of Richard Woon, Tanjong Pagar's former general manager.

Hafiz in action for Tanjong Pagar. Photo: S.League

Woon offered to pay for the surgery and the veteran defender started to get back into his groove again.

It was during his layoff from football - which spanned close to a year, that Hafiz realised that he wanted to be a fitness trainer, drawing inspiration from national team backroom staff such as Sasha Bozenko and Nurhafizah.

Fitness trainers and coaches like Fizah and Sasha gave me inspiration to carry on playing football. I saw that their job motivated me and that got me into fitness line

- Hafiz Osman

“Fitness trainers and coaches like Fizah and Sasha gave me inspiration to carry on playing football. I saw that their job motivated me and that got me into fitness line.”

Hafiz started to work as a personal trainer in his free-time with Ooberfit in 2014, a fitness boot camp which focused on personal training.

"It was a good positive experience for me," said Hafiz, who worked with trainer Sam Blakey. "Together, we managed to be the "Best Fitness Provider" (awarded by) Expat Living magazine for two years in a row. With her guiding me and the clients trust and support, I was able to start up my own fitness branding."

In 2017, Hafiz, who was then playing for Warriors, founded Battalion Fitness In The Park.

“My students have been with me for some time and I am grateful that my students grew from four to eight and now I got 20 people, all of them who are expats.”

Hafiz’ classes consists of high intensity interval training sessions, as well as strength and conditioning workouts.