GROWING up, we are all destined to have a personal liking towards something that doesn’t seem to fade away, even when age is catching up.

For S. Gobiraj, 55, this holds true. After spending most of his life as a football player and coach, he is now the Penang FC technical director.

In an exclusive interview with Buletin Mutiara recently, Gobi was lost for words when trying to describe the opportunity given to him to serve as the technical director for his state’s football team.

While excited about the vital role he now plays, Gobi said his love and passion for football has shaped him for who he is now, and it was all due to the past influences by his father and other role models.

“My greatest mentor is definitely my late father K. Silvaraj, who at his age played football for Penang Port Commission and had represented them in the Asean Inter-Port Competition many years back.

“Dad always took me to the field with him to play football and this was one of the reasons I have developed so much love for this sport.

“As a former student from SK St Mark Perai (primary) and Bukit Mertajam High School (secondary), I was involved in countless inter-school competitions.

“Those were the days. No matter how far we go in this sport, nothing actually beats the feeling of playing football on the streets, schools or any common ground with your friends.

“Besides my father, there was another amazing man who played a very important part in my journey as a footballer.

“It was the late Chuah Hock Chye, a former clerk from one of the Chinese schools in Butterworth who could speak fluent Tamil.

“Back then, Uncle Chuah had coached a local club called Prai Rovers, which went on to be a popular club on the mainland, lining up some of the best players that made it to the Penang FC.

“It was one of the moments which will stay close to my heart for a very long time as I not only played for the club, but was called up to participate in the junior and senior Penang Super League from 1982 to 1987,” said Gobi.

Before getting his hands on the coaching certificate in 1993, Gobi, who had previously worked for Intel Technology Sdn Bhd in Bayan Lepas for 29 years, was an important player for the company’s  football team.

“The team was new back then, but with the ability of our coach to identify players with incredible talent, the process made it easy to form a team full of top-notch players.

“You know you have a great team when everyone focuses not only on winning, but winning the right way, have fun and play with your heart and soul.

“It was a fantastic experience playing for Intel because it was full of energetic players with the right attitude on and off the field,” Gobi added.

Gobi, who had represented Intel in many national-level competitions during his tenure as a player, took up coaching in 1998.

When he hung up his boots at Intel as a footballer, coach and a staff member, Gobi’s spell in the sport continued as he joined the Bukit Gelugor Sports Club.

It was a club formed by former players and good friends.

Through God’s blessings and an experienced-filled management, BGSC went on to set up a football academy in 2014 to recruit and coach players of different age groups, from as young as six to 50-year-old and above.

When asked who is his favourite football player, Gobi was quick to say Steven Gerrard.

“Stevie was a talisman for both England and Liverpool. He was easily one of the best central midfielders in Europe and always had a full tank, even when his team was on the losing side.

“His contribution for club and country was immense and his leadership on and off the field says so much about Stevie.

“I look up to him because he is a special player and a great talent. His loyalty to his club should be applauded too.

“Despite multiple interests from top clubs in Europe, he decided to stick with Liverpool until the twilight of his career. He then played for a spell in the Major League Soccer before retiring.

“Mr Liverpool and captain fantastic will always be one of my role models too,” Gobi added.

On his role as the technical director, Gobi said his main responsibilities are to lead the club’s technical development programmes, encourage youth involvement in the sport, enhance coaching education, conduct research, document new trends for the club and many others.

When asked to give a word or two to aspiring young and future footballers, Gobi said football could be a lucrative career in a highly competitive market in Malaysia today.

“With the right attitude, coaching and self-discipline, one can go far in this field.

“Young players are the future of tomorrow. If you are passionate about this sport and have the desire to take it to the next level, then this is your ground for the taking,” he added as the interview drew to an end.

Source: Buletin Mutiara