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The 11-year-old looking for funds to play football in Spain

Azzad Athary Rafzan and his family are doing all they can to achieve his dream of becoming a football player one day.

Ahmad Mustakim Zulkifli
2 minute read
Azzad Athary Rafzan (right) in action at a Suparimau League 2022 game.
Azzad Athary Rafzan (right) in action at a Suparimau League 2022 game.

At just 11 years old, Azzad Athary Rafzan has received an offer to play football at an international tournament in Spain.

Azzad's talent was discovered by the tournament organisers, who offered him a spot at the TAR11 U11 Promises Football Tournament with a team in Bangkok, Thailand.

The problem for Azzad and his family, though, is how he will get there and finance his stay throughout the tournament. 

His father, Rafzan Ramli, said his son would need to find the funds to cover the cost of his trip, meals and accommodation upon his arrival in Spain. 

Rafzan had taken Azzad to train in the Thai capital, where he was seen by the PFA Bangkok team. 

"My wife and I contacted an academy in Bangkok last September for a try-out session in order to give our son more exposure," he said. 

"The club trainer offered Azzad a spot at a tournament with his academy in December.

"Early this year, the club contacted us and gave us an invitation for Azzad to play with them in Spain." 

Azzad, who is currently part of the National Football Development Programme (NFDP), is confident of the skills needed to perform at the tournament. 

The problem is that the club only sponsors fees and jerseys for players. 

Everything else, Azzad's parents will need to cover. 

Rafzan, who works as a technician at RapidKL, said the estimated cost for his son's trip with a guardian is about RM35,000. 

The tournament will continue over the course of two days, but the players need to be there a week ahead of time for training sessions and friendly games. 

The academies of leading clubs such as Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid are also expected to attend. 

Rafzan said Azzad, the youngest of five children, had been playing football since he was six years old. 

When he was just one, Rafzan took him to a stadium to watch his very first live match. 

Azzad, who attends SK Taman Samudera Batu Caves, began participating in local tournaments when he was eight.

He now plays in the Suparimau League under the management of the Football Federation of Malaysia.

Rafzan said he had been working part-time as a carpenter in order to raise funds for his son and help him achieve his dream of becoming a football player. 

"I have a small workshop at home, but I don't make very much," he said. 

"Most of the time, I have to use our savings." 

Rafzan has also approached the youth and sports ministry, which voiced support for the family's initiative. 

"Some individuals and friends have also contributed," he said. 

"They understand what grassroots football really is."

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