Published in Malay Mail Online
Penang footballer Faiz Subri’s recent FIFA Puskás Award for his bewitching knuckleball free-kick brought its own share of hangers-on and opportunists.
Faiz’s win was incontrovertibly his own, a demonstration of his personal passion and talent rather than a reflection of the state of the country’s football prowess or lack thereof.
A recent video that went viral online showed Faiz’s top five goals, and it served as proof that Faiz’s performance was not really a fluke as he netted one goal after another wonderful goal from an incredible distance.
But over the 11 months since he scored that winning goal, Faiz has had to suddenly carry the hopes and dignity of a country whose team currently ranks 161 in the world below Aruba and above Macedonia, a far cry from its 79th place in 1993 when the ranking was first devised.
Born a Malay, Faiz has also had to carry the burden and pride of the majority ethnic group, which is still struggling with its post-colonial identity even nearly 60 years after Malaya declared itself independent.