POWER OF FOOTBALL: Midnight Football changed the lives of Bandar Baru Sentul youth
FOOTBALL has the power to change lives. With Midnight Football, a joint effort by Global Peace Festival Malaysia (GPFM), Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and Department of National Unity and Integration (JPNIN), youth aged 18 and below were guided to build positive characters.
First initiated in 2010, the second edition of the eight-month programme was focused on the youths of Sentul.
With the slogan "Off the Street, On the Ball", it involved 64 youth at risk from four different schools in Bandar Baru Sentul.
With Midnight Football, the teenagers not only had the opportunity to improve their discipline and social skills through twice-a-week football practices, but also to participate in other activities which included leadership camps.
Midnight Football 2 came to a close recently with parents and members of the community coming out to support the teams in their final football matches.
In intense matches, both male and female participants gave their best to win the Midnight Football trophies while at the same time demonstrating high levels of sportsmanship.
For the male category, team Ambition came out as champions beating team Faith while in the female category, team Inspiration beat team Passion in the final match.
Families and community members were also in for the fun as they took part in open football games before the finals commenced.
"After eight months, we can see these teenagers renewing and building new dreams for their futures.
"Because of this, we hope to continue the programme as there are more youths out there who deserve the same opportunity," said GPFM executive director Dr Teh Su Thye at the prize-giving ceremony.
Teh also thanked and congratulated the coaches from Sports Planet for not only helping the participants with football, but also with their life skills.
Also present at the ceremony were AFC corporate social responsibility director Ingill Ra and JPNIN Federal Territories deputy director Burhanuddin Daud.
Among the awards given out at the ceremony were the Best Players awards which were given to Muhammad Husni Husin and Soh Yee Ching, both 17.
"I used to get suspended from school and do many unproductive activities before joining Midnight Football.
"Now I don't have time for any of that as my days are filled with football and spending time with my family," Husni said.
Soh, who was never interested in football before, almost gave up as she felt that she was too small for the programme.
"These past eight months have definitely boosted my confidence and I have more friends now," said the petite teenager.
Other partners involved were Unicef, Sports Planet, University of Malaya (Sports Centre), Ministry of Education and PROSTAR.