Name: Nur Ashriq Ferdaus Bin Zul’Kepli
Participating in his 3rd SEA Games this year, 24 year old midfielder, Ashriq, of the Men’s Field Hockey team is geared up to bring glory to Singapore and his supporters. Ashriq, first picked up the sport 15 years ago, at Chongzheng Primary School. His burgeoning talent was apparent to all who saw him play and he also developed an immediate and deep connection with the sport.
Ashriq made his international debut during the 2010 Youth Olympic Games and he announced his promising future in Hockey during the 2011 SEA Cup when he was awarded “Best Player of the Tournament”.
We often hear of athletes performing peculiar rituals before or even during the tournaments. While many appreciate the physical aspects of an athletes’ preparation, a lot of mental, spiritual and emotional preparation go unnoticed but are just as essential to equip oneself for competing. Ashriq has a particular ritual of his own. For him, the ritual of wearing his left sock first before his right is something he has never deviated since he first started playing the sport. Though one may dismiss this as superstition and question what the actual repercussions would be if his ritual were to be broken, Ashriq thinks that is best left unexplored!
Having been around hockey for the majority of his life, there had to be some interesting anecdotes for Ashriq to share with us. We managed to coax a story of an embarrassing incident that occurred to Ashriq earlier this year after some prying. He chuckled as he related what had happened. “It happened during our penalty corner training. We have a few drag flickers in the team and as I was waiting for my turn, I decided to sit at the back of the goalpost. Just as I leaned on the net, the net snapped and tore. The next thing I knew, my back was on the floor and I was facing the skies. It happened so fast! The net has yet to be repaired.” This moment will probably be one that will be embedded in Ashriq’s memory though we doubt his teammates would let him forget even if he wanted to.
Though we may have faced the same opponents many times, every experience against them is a new challenge as they may bring different players and vary their tactics. Adding to this, Singapore will also be up against an Indonesian team that they haven’t played in recent memory and thus have no inkling on what to expect from them.
Ashriq feels that as the popularity of the sport increases, the standard, intensity and unpredictability of games will rise anyway. Though the element of uncertainty in the tournaments will increase and pose greater difficulty to athletes and coaches, it will also make the SEA Games more exhilarating to watch and better for fans.
Ashriq is confident that given the diverse and numerous friendly matches that the men’s team have played in preparation for the SEA Games, the team is ready and will function as one unit to achieve a common goal – advancing to the finals.
Show your support for Ashriq donning the Singapore flag on his number 10 jersey this coming SEA Games happening between 19th and 30th August.
You can also keep a lookout for Ashriq playing in the National Hockey League 1 for Project Vaults!