PIP head coach Haji Omar second best for AFC Youth Coach of the Year

Fadhil Yunus

Brunei Darussalam’s continuous efforts to develop grassroots football received wider recognition on the regional scene after Projek Ikan Pusu head coach (PIP) Haji Omar bin Haji Jamil was named runner-up for Youth Coach of the Year (Male) at the 3rd Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Youth Conference 2019 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia recently.

The Youth Coach of the Year (Male) title went to Saudi Arabia’s Abdulwahab Alharbi, who is the coach of his country’s youth national team since 2017.

Haji Omar, who currently holds the post of National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (NFABD) Competition Youth League Manager, was among the 47 candidates from the AFC member nations in contention for the prestigious accolade.

The recognition by AFC towards Haji Omar’s long service marked another significant milestone in the country’s initiative to develop football through grassroots.

In 2016, His Royal Highness Prince Haji Sufri Bolkiah, President of NFABD received the AFC President Recognition Award for Grassroots Football (Aspiring Category) during the AFC Awards in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Two years later, Brunei Darussalam grabbed the regional headlines again when Projek Ikan Pusu (PIP) Manager Cheah Swee Ming won the AFC Best Grassroots Leader Award 2018 in recognition of his tireless efforts promoting Brunei grassroots football for children and youth since 2001.

Projek Ikan Pusu head coach Haji Omar bin Haji Jamil with FIFA President Gianni Infantino. PHOTO: PROJEK IKAN PUSU

PIP have grown rapidly from just some 20 trainees in 2001 to more than 600 trainees today and coached by a team of experienced, enthusiastic and committed coaches under head coach Haji Omar.

PIP have also been nominated by NFABD to compete in the AFC Best Grassroots Development Programme 2018 Award where they finished sixth out of 47 participating member nations.

“With this AFC recognition, I hope other coaches and everyone involved in local football will take heart and work hard to continuously do our very best for the children, youth and Brunei football.

“To develop and promote football effectively, all stakeholders must obviously be prepared to sacrifice time, effort and money. Nothing comes easy,” said Haji Omar.

“I believe that it is only by thinking big plus always passionately doing our best for the children and youth that we will be able to eventually stand tall and take our place among the best in Asia, and indeed, even the world.”

“For example, it took me 20 years to be recognised, so patience and passion is the key.

“Alhamdulillah, PIP have grown from strength to strength to become the main provider of quality players to all local football teams at all levels and across all age groups, the schools and the colleges, the government department teams, the clubs participating in the DST leagues, the Brunei national teams at all age groups as well as DPMM FC.”