Beating The Odds – Singh Tanmohitbir Riar
There was once a little boy in Hong Kong who dreamt of nothing but playing soccer. Now at 18 years he is representing all Hong Kong schools in soccer matches and was selected as a member of the Hong Kong District All-Stars team to play against famous teams such as the Manchester United (UK). What makes him unique in this multicultural city is the fact that despite being born here, Singh Tanmohitbir Riar has had to beat the odds to be where he is today.
It is far from easy being a member of the ethnic minority population in a city like Hong Kong and playing in national sports teams, but as he says “When you believe in yourself, you can accomplish anything.” We sat with “Mohit” to learn a little more about him, and what inspires and drives
Who inspired you to play football?
I have always been interested in football since I was young. It used to be a hobby for me, but in Secondary school, I decided to join the school’s football team. I remember not being selected by the school’s team initially, and seeing me disappointed, my friend asked me to go for the selections again. This time, I was finally chosen as a goalkeeper. Since then, I have been playing as a goalkeeper. When people ask me about my football inspiration – the answer is always the same. I idolize the famous German professional footballer, Ter Stegen. He was also one of the reasons why I went for the goalkeeper’s position during the selections at my school.
What is some of the best advice you have received and from whom?
Whatever you do, give it your 100%. I believe this is the best advice I have ever received, and it was from my parents. Being a student in Hong Kong, there is so much that we have to cope with. Sometimes, it becomes difficult to even take out time for football practices and training sessions because of the overloaded of school work. Juggling between academics and sports, I wasn’t doing exceptionally well at either at one point in my life. I decided to follow their advice and started giving my 100% in everything.
What motivates you the most when you are playing on the field?
People’s confidence and trust in me. Playing as a goalkeeper is extremely stressful. Yet, in such stressful situations, it’s good to know that the people around me like my teammates, my coach, parents and friends, believe in me. Whenever the ball comes near the goal, everyone starts to look at me, with hope in their eyes, wishing that I can make a good save preventing the opponents from scoring. Although this can be stressful at times, their belief in me and the happiness on their faces upon a good save is what keeps me going.
What is the one thing you know now about playing this sport, that you wish you knew earlier?
I think it would be the importance of training. In football, there is a lot to learn and many skills to acquire. In my initial years of practice, I used to take it for granted and would miss out on some sessions. However, over the years, I learnt how important it is to train. Had I realized the importance earlier, I wouldn’t have missed out on valuable lessons that I could have learnt during those sessions.
What advice do you have for other Indian or ethnic minority children who want to get into sports teams on a national level?
As clichéd as this might sound, I believe hard work and persistence is the key to success. In sports, you can’t become good overnight. You need to be ready for all the challenges and endless training sessions. If you can overcome these challenges and work hard enough to improve your skills, you can achieve your dreams. Also, as an ethnic minority in Hong Kong, I feel we tend to miss out on good opportunities because we might have a fear of losing at the starting line. There is also some lack of awareness about resources that can help get us into sports teams on a national level. Drawing from my personal experiences, I believe self-belief and confidence are vital. Be more proactive in exploring different opportunities for yourself and find a good support system in teachers and coaches. Proactively search for more information about the opportunities and possibilities of growth in your respective sport.
What are your aspirations after you finish University?
After I complete the HKDSEs, I want to study either a business-related or a sports-related programme at University. Seeing my father work so hard in setting up a business in Hong Kong, makes me want to follow in his footsteps. I would love to either start my own company or help my father with the family business. Alongside business, I also envision myself being a professional football player. Football is my passion, so I would love to turn my passion into my career.