MEMORABLE:Arsenal FC’s stars visited SMK Seksyen 11, winner of an Interschool KL Challenge involving the Nike SPARQ test
SMK Seksyen 11 students greeted Arsenal FC stars with an enthusiastic roar when the latter recently paid a surprise visit to the school.
Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Andre Santos, Wojciech Szczesny, Ryo Miyaichi and Kieran Gibbs turned up at the school hall to take the students' enquiries.
About 500 students were in the hall of the school, which is also the Selangor Sports School.
The school had emerged as champion in the Gunners International KL Challenge, with the highest score among 20 schools for the Nike SPARQ (Speed, Power, Agility, Reaction and Quickness) test.
The school bagged RM5,000 worth of Nike products and a signed Arsenal cannon sculpture.
Nike Malaysia country marketing manager, Joan Yeoh, said it is important to have a strong foundation to mould physical, mental and emotional strengths.
"We look forward to inspire aspiring footballers, and Nike wants you to go for your dream," she said.
One of the Nike SPARQ test's candidates, Muhammad Faisal Shahimee, 16, was ecstatic to meet his idol, Arsenal goalkeeper Szczesny.
"Football taught me about commitment from a very young age," he said.
Another candidate, Muhamad Qawiem Asyriq, 16, was honoured to be able to meet the international football stars in person.
"We managed to complete a strenuous Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test by training frequently for fitness," he said.
Nurul Akmal Lokman, 17, was inspired by the footballers' passion, although there was no football team for girls in the school.
"Their high spirit applies to any sport. We are supportive of our classmates during football tournaments," said Nurul.
During the question-and-answer session, Oxlade-Chamberlain said that exposure from school days was important in grooming football players.
Szczesny said footballers have the responsibility of being good role models since their stories are followed by many.
The school's under-17 football team coach, Abdul Razak Saleh, said the Gunners' visit was a morale booster for all committed sportsmen in the school.
"The Nike SPARQ test was taken by 80 students from the school's football team as well as from other sporting disciplines. It was a good initiative for developing sports culture in the school," he said, adding that the students were trained to think about long-term benefits and also to be good in formulating strategies.
He was happy to have five under-17 players qualify for the Asian Schools Football Federation Championship selection.