Geylang International FC

Exclusive Interview with U-14 Coach Sugunan Perianan!

“I briefly remembered my last interview as a player. It was when I was only 19 years old and it was with The New Paper. I haven’t had such an interview for a long time now,” he laughs.

Shining for clubs like Jurong FC, Woodlands Wellington and Sengkang Marine, he was once dubbed the next V.Sundramoothy. Years later, Sugunan Perianan, coach of the U-14 side, has taken his career to a whole new level.

Sugunan Perianan joined Geylang United F.C as the U-14 coach in February earlier this year. Having previously coached at schools like Parkview Primary School and Radin Mas Primary School, Sugunan is no stranger when it comes to working with boys.

When asked about what are his values as a football coach, he answered, “The importance of humility and keeping one’s feet on the ground is really important.”

“I believe that it’s important to develop attitude and good habits especially when you’re young. It’s easier to correct the habits when they’re young and they’ll benefit when they grow older. I see humility as a very important value that young footballers must have. Even if one is talented, a lack of humility will be a deterrence to his progress. I always tell the boys to keep their feet on the ground and not get big headed.  Even though I’m happy after seeing the progress that they’ve made, I will make sure that they won’t get the impression that this is the end of the road. I will continue to motivate them, to challenge them to become ever better players.”

Sugunan sure did learn his lesson first hand when he started playing professional football at the age of 19. Known for his silky dribbling skills and excellent finishing, he was dubbed the next big thing in the local football by players and coaches alike.  Comparisons were made to the legend V.Sundramoothy for their common attacking flair. However, he never really managed to live up his potential retiring at the age of 27.

“Being labeled the next V.Sundramoothy somehow got into my head. Everything was going well at that time and I made the national U-23 squad. If I would’ve kept my focus, I’m confident I will eventually make it to the senior team.  However, at that time, there wasn’t anyone to prevent me from veering off track, to instill more discipline in my lifestyle. This is where I come in for the boys. Because the boys represent Geylang United F.C, there’s a certain degree of pressure and swagger that comes with it. We’re always expected to be the best, if not one of the best clubs in the country. I make it a point to tell my story to the boys so that they can learn from my mistakes and develop not only into a better footballer but also a better person.” he said with conviction.

Fresh from a 2-0 victory over Woodlands Wellington at St Wilfreds last Saturday, the team is currently sits at second place of the table with 23 points from 10 matches. When asked about how he finds the progress of the U-14 team, he replied enthusiastically,

“They’re a bunch of great boys, always willing to listen. There are some excellent individual players as well but I’m trying to get them to play more for the team as I believe when you win, you win as a team. The development of the players is the main goal for me. It’s important that we win but what I’m really trying to achieve with the U-14 side is development. I want  to minimize their bad habits and develop good ones. I’m also looking to allow players who hadn’t got a chance to play as much in the first round of the league to play more. It’s my responsibility to ensure that the boys fufill their potential, develop a positive attitude and most importantly, grow into a person with proper character. Hopefully maybe 5-6 years from now, they’re able to take the mantle from the senior side and take Geylang back to its glory days again.”

Being a former primary school football coach, Sugunan is now a frequent spectator at inter-school competitions. Scouting for young talents is a task he’s accustomed to and it helps that he’s familiar with the schools’ football coaches. It is important that the club has a good scouting system in place as it ensures that the best talents in the east wouldn’t go unnoticed by the club.

“I would go to schools around the neighbourhood like St. Patricks, Victoria and Siglap and look out for particularly impressive players. When I recognize talent, I would then try to convince their parents to allow them to join the club. At times, they’ll still recognize me as the next V.Sundramoothy so it makes my job easier!” he laughs.

Joining Geylang early this year, Sugunan is delighted that he’s landed this job as he appreciates that he’s still able to contribute his part to local football.

“I’m very grateful to Khidhir (U-16 coach) for this opportunity. Even though a lot of other coaches applied for this position, he believed in me. A lot of people are surprised to see me still involved in football after all these years and I definitely hope it’ll only be a start of many more things to come.”

We wish Sugunan and the U-14 team for the 2nd round of the season!

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