‘Dashing’ for the goal

Fadhil Yunus

With a conveyor belt of fresh talent across several age groups, Dash Football Academy (DFA) is slowly gaining a reputation as one of the up-and-coming football academies in the country, despite having only been established three years ago.

The local academy has contributed to the development of grassroots football in the country through nurturing home-grown talent, aligned with the aspirations of the national governing body National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (NFABD).

The idea of setting up Dash Football Academy first arose when coaches Hazmin Hatta bin Haji Hamzah and Shahrom, both of whom share a common interest in football, decided to form a football academy in 2016.

The pair had been coaching at different clubs and academies before deciding to embark on the launch their own academy, which was officially established in January 2017.

The name of the academy was inspired from a recreational football team called the Dash Team.

Originally called Dashyankuro Football Team, the name was rebranded to Dash Team and featured a group of sixth form members from Duli Pengiran Muda Al-Muhtadee Billah College (Maktab Duli) in 1996.

Initially, DFA began with under-nine and under-11 age groups and debuted their training session at the Berakas Sports Complex Futsal Court.

Having seen a rise of football enthusiasts, the academy opened up for more age groups including the under-6s, under-8s, under-10s, under-12s and under-14s as well as the Youth Elite.

The academy changed venues a few times before setting its base at the Rimba Secondary School and sometimes at the NFABD Artificial Football Field, particularly on Sunday mornings.

Since its establishment, DFA has boasted more than 150 players in their roster under the guidance of 10 coaches across all age groups.

The players typically train two hours in each session, while the type of training sessions vary across age groups depending on their mental and physical capabilities.

Since their establishment, DFA has enjoyed success on the domestic scene, having won a series of titles in the JFA-JPKK under-13 tournament, DPMM FC Football Fanfare under-13 tournament, ABSS Football Festival in the under-10s and under-12s, PPSB and McDonald’s under-14 football tournament and the NFABD 4×4 Grassroots under-12 tournament.

In the international circuit, the academy also joined the under-12 tournament in Selangor, Malaysia.

Through football, the coaches at the DFA have also helped shape the values of players guided by discipline, respect and humility.

“The coaches constantly provide advice to the players on the importance of being humble and respectful towards teammates and coaches,” said DFA co-founder Hazmin Hatta. “Even in tournaments, we always point out to players the importance of being respectful towards their opponent and never underestimate them.

“Of course, having self-confidence is very important towards achieving success but being too overconfident and looking down on opponents are the reasons for failure in any team. Therefore, humility and respect is of utmost importance to us.”

DFA has welcomed a friendly and lively environment, evident from its easy-going and approachable coaches. This is demonstrated with the handling of players which varies depending on the age group. For instance, the older age groups will have a stricter routine compared to the younger age groups.

With ambition to produce fresh graduates, the academy has plans to develop a product into a player who possesses a high level of technical and tactical competence in their game.

Looking forward, the academy plans to supply players to local clubs or possibly establish their own club at senior level to build a pathway for the players.

The establishment of DFA also serves as a platform for upgrading the coaches’ abilities and producing coaches who are knowledgeable and able to meet the current football trends.

“This is important because we believe that the players are only as good as what the coaches teach them,” said Hazmin Hatta. “If the coaches’ knowledge is limited, then the improvements of players are also going to be limited.”

The academy has also strived towards raising the standard of local players to a level that was unseen before as they plan to be on par with their Asian counterparts.

There has not been an academy graduate to date, though the most senior players are in the under-15 age group, having risen through the ranks from the under-9s and under-11s.

Recently, DFA became the first football academy in the country to launch a mobile application.

“We hope the use of technology can help improve our training and management of players and coaches to the next level.”