Entering the campus of International Sports Academy with light steps, Muhd Zulqarnaen is a highly motivated individual who is attempting an unconventional route for his education and sporting career. We sat down with Muhd Zulqarnaen to find out more.

Tell us more about yourself.
Prior to applying for my diploma, I pursued a NITEC in Facilities Management. I am currently playing for the Young Lions which is for youth players 21 years old and below. It is also my 4th years with the club. Football has pretty much been the main highlight my whole life since picking it up in secondary 1 till being with FAS today.  Due to my involvement in Football, I was awarded the Peter Lim Scholarship twice in secondary school (sec 2 & 3). 

Speaking about passion, are there any other sports/hobbies you enjoy? 
During my free time, I enjoy playing bowling. In fact, maybe I should consider it as my new sports career after retirement from football? I find bowling a fun and interesting sport but I can only afford the time to bowl during weekends or on my off days. 

You sound like a really busy individual being a student-athlete, having to balance school and trainings, how do you manage your schedule?
 It is essential for me to have good time management as my typical day consists of school, training and revision for my school work when I get back home. I try my best to stick to a certain time to rest and sleep to ensure I am not tired as well as getting enough rest for recovery. When we have to travel overseas for training and tournaments, I often have to miss school. However, I am also fortunate that the school accommodate to my schedule such as having private arrangement for examinations and tests that I may miss. With such a busy schedule to follow every day, I can only afford time to go out once/twice a month, but I guess it is pretty normal for one to have to sacrifice his/her social life just for more time to train, rest or study. 

What was ASA Diploma in Sports Development able to provide you (that other courses were not able to)? 
With my busy schedule, the arrangement for online lectures allows for flexible time management. I still get freedom over my schedule, allowing me to pursue sports, be educated and getting adequate rest. The mainstream education pathway in Singapore on a tertiary level is based on attendance which might be difficult for me to maintain especially with more trainings, tournaments and overseas trips to attend. The weekly tutorials will most definitely not be an issue as it is not demanding to set aside time once a week for consultation even during season. I was attracted to the idea of obtaining a diploma within a year and it can also be recognised by all Australian universities. 

What are your plans after receiving the Diploma and where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time? 
After my diploma, I will need to serve my National Service. However, I do have plans to pursue a degree after that. I aspire to be a coach or even a sports marketer as I noticed I can be creative with my ideas. If I take on the coaching route, I will probably want to work with 17-20 year old players as they have certain level of maturity and it is easier to communicate with them. 

Why did you choose to pursue an education in Sport Development? 
I believe that as a sportsman, it is critical to be educated with appropriate knowledge and skills. Currently, I have interest in being a coach or even a sports marketer, so it is essential to be trained for the correct area for my future. 

As a student-athlete, what advice do you have for young student-athletes? 
In Singapore’s context, it is important to have plans for your future after your sporting career, Education should be placed of equal importance as your Sports. Most importantly, do not forget to spend time with your family (your biggest supporters!) while chasing your dreams. 

Who/what gives you the most motivation? 
My grandfather and mother are my greatest motivation in every I do. My late grandfather is a huge fan of Fandi Ahmad and even have a poster of him pasted on my house ceiling! His wish was to see my elder brother and I train under Fandi Ahmad. While my mother has always been supportive since young and constantly encourages me to always try my best in everything I do. I am very thankful that I managed to fulfil my grandfather’s wish although it would had been great if he could witness his dream come true. Nonetheless, my grandfather and mother are the driving force in my life.