KELANA JAYA: Before the turn of the 21st century, Malaysia used to be well-regarded in the world of football. With big names and talented players like Mokhtar Dahari, Santokh Singh, Zainal Abidin Hassan and Soh Chin Ann, the country had much to be proud of.
Those glory days have long passed, and it seems unlikely at times that Malaysia can recapture the magic it once possessed in football.
However, not all is lost. Is it not true that a country’s future depends on its youth? As it stands, many local kids are still very much invested in football.
In fact, some are so invested in the sport that they end up breaking records as in the case of Jaron Yap.
The 10-year-old is now a Malaysia Book of Records (MBR) holder for the “Fastest Football Kick by a Child”.
Under the supervision of MBR officials who used an electronic speed radar device, it was determined that a football kicked by Jaron had reached the astounding speed of 68km/h.
As this speed is faster than that of some motor vehicles, Jaron’s feat is certainly nothing short of amazing; doubly so when considering his age.
This accomplishment will not have been possible without the help and guidance of his father, Jonas.
FMT Lifestyle spoke with both father and son during a recent practice session at the RKS Sports Centre in Petaling Jaya.
According to Jonas, his son is quiet by nature and this record-breaking attempt was a way to help Jaron build his confidence.
“He’s been a bit reserved since young,” Jonas admitted. “He doesn’t mix around with a lot of people. So, from here, we try to build up his confidence through his achievements.”
Both Jonas and Jaron are football junkies and apparently, they were both curious about which famous football player had the most powerful kick on record.
“So, we searched up the answer on Google to find out who were the hard-hitters in the football world,” Jonas said.
Turns out it was Spanish footballer Francisco Javier Galan Màrin, who in 2001, entered the Guinness Book of Records for kicking a football at 129km/h.
Jonas was quick to notice that while the record for the fastest kick by an adult did exist, there was no recorded attempt of a child for a similar feat.
FMT Lifestyle asked the father and son who first came up with the idea to make a go at breaking the record. “His,” said Jaron quickly, motioning towards his father.
“Since Jaron was young, I knew he had the potential to shoot balls very hard, so I asked him to give the attempt a try!”
When Jonas first suggested the idea to Jaron, his son was apparently reluctant, disbelieving his own capabilities. “He said there was no way he would break any record.”
Jaron confirmed this: “I felt like I couldn’t break the record, but somehow, I still managed to achieve it. I didn’t think it was possible.”
To encourage his son to give it a try, Jonas said: “I told him that anything is possible and that when there’s a will, there’s a way.”
It certainly helped that Jaron, like his father, is a physically active kid, who regularly plays dodgeball as well as football.
“I was a football player myself,” explained Jonas. “A school football player. So, naturally, Jaron’s also very much into football.”
According to him, sports is as important as academic achievements. “We do have to keep our bodies healthy to get around to excel academically.”
In the run-up to the record-breaking kick, Jaron had to practise his moves regularly, often after school as well as on weekends. “It was very challenging,” the boy said.
On the day of the record-breaking attempt, Jaron was given three chances. The first two attempts saw his kicks reaching 66km/h. It was only on the third and final attempt that it reached 68km/h.
When asked if he had wanted to give up at any point, Jaron said: “I didn’t want to give up. I wanted to keep continuing, to keep going. My dad encouraged me.”
It’s a good sign for the country’s prospects in football as Jaron said he wishes to be part of the national team in the future.
“I’d like to represent Malaysia,” he said. And when asked which footballer he looked up to most, he meekly replied: “Cristiano Ronaldo.”