Mad About Football
Alumni Feature: Madhu M Mohana
Madhu M Mohana was about six years old when he picked up football, and he fell in love with it. After 23 years⁄, the 29-year-old’s passion for the sport is far from being extinguished.
In his 11 years as a professional footballer – and counting, Madhu counts himself blessed that he is able to do what he loves as a full-time job. However, professional athletes face their fair share of challenges, shares Madhu, as they have to ensure that they are physically and mentally fit for each training and competition. For him, maintaining a high standard of discipline has been critical in his success as an athlete.
Hailing from Singapore Sports School’s pioneer batch of footballers, the defender has been a member of the national outfit since 2013 and chalked up 30 international caps in his career. Madhu has represented Singapore twice at the Southeast Asian Games, in 2009 and 2013, and helped Singapore to bronze medals on both occasions. Another career highlight was scored with the LionsXII in 2015 when the team beat Kelantan FA in the Bukit Jalil Stadium filled with 90,000 fans to be crowned champions in the Malaysia FA Cup for the first time in Singapore’s history. Just a month later, Madhu helped the Singapore team hold off Japan in the 2018 World Cup qualifier in Saitama, Japan, to end the match in a 0-0 draw.
Madhu’s latest achievement is a runner-up finish with Tampines Rovers FC in the 2020 Singapore Premier League. As the top local club in the League, the team has earned a spot in the 2021 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League and a historic qualification into the group stage. Among his many sport achievements, the footballer counts winning the 2019 Singapore Cup with Tampines Rovers as one of his top accomplishments.
The Football Academy alumnus credits his Sports School experience as vital in preparing him for his professional career.
“Four years of staying in and training twice a day definitely helped prepare for my career. I was so used to trainings that it had become a part of my life and I was mentally ready when I became a full-time athlete.
One of the most important things I got out of my Sports School experience was time management. Being on time for every training and class goes a long way and it’s really important to manage your time well as a professional athlete. As I stayed in Boarding, there were no distractions from outside and it helped me focus fully on training and school. Boarding in school also meant that I saw my teammates and schoolmates very often each day and that taught me how to interact with and manage different types of people.”
As one of the remaining few alumni in his batch still playing professionally, Madhu has some advice for student-athletes aspiring to make football a full-time career: “Stay focused. Always know what you want and never give up on your dreams. It’s never going to be easy. There will be many obstacles ahead, fight through. For us boys, our biggest hurdle is National Service but don’t worry, think of it as another two years of Sports School with boarding. Train during your free time. Manage your time well. Adapt to people. Lastly, set goals for yourself. Work towards being the best in your sport. Don’t waste the four years of hard work and sweat you’ve already put in.”