SUBANG JAYA-based See Tian Keat hopes to taste academic success while standing as solid as a rock between the goalposts on the football field.
When he was nine, Tian Keat began playing as a goalkeeper with the Subang Jaya Community Sports Club (SJCSC) before moving on to the Arsenal Soccer School and, finally, the Brazillian Football Club for a more competitive environment.
Tian Keat admitted that initially, he was not heavily involved in football as he also represented his school in the District School Sports Council (MSSD) heptathlon event and the Selangor School Sports Council (MSSS) in squash and cheerleading.
The former SJK (C) Lick Hung and Catholic High School Petaling Jaya student said he did not realise his potential in football until he was selected to play for the Selangor State Development Corporation (PKNS) FC in the President’s Cup.
In spite of his busy sports schedule, Tian Keat did not neglect his studies, excelling in his SPM by scoring 9As. He later decided to further his studies by enrolling in the Cambridge A-Levels programme in Taylor’s College.
“It was one of the toughest decisions I had to make. My football commitments required me to train full time and my parents were worried that it would affect my results, especially since I occasionally had no choice but to skip classes on game days.
“I was able to convince them with my discipline and hard work. My typical daily routine was filled with classes from morning till noon, rushing for training sessions in the evening and my nights would be usually occupied with revision and completing my coursework.
“Thanks to my determination to excel in my studies, I was able to persevere. It all paid off when I achieved Bs for Mathematics, Chemistry and Biology in the A-Levels,” he said.
Tian Keat said that before he signed for PKNS, he was training and working closely with Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) goalkeeping instructor Lim Chuan Chin.
In PKNS, he got the opportunity to train with the first team goalkeeping coach occasionally and he believed this, coupled with his earlier experiences, had shaped him into a better goalkeeper. After his first year playing for the PKNS reserves, he received an offer to graduate to the first team to play professionally in the Malaysia Super League (MSL).
After discussing the invitation with his parents, he decided not to turn professional as it would have made him sacrifice more of his time and he played for another year with the reserve team.
However, after FAM forced all reserve teams to disband this year, Tian Keat had to look for a new team. He decided to take a year off from his studies and signed for the Perak Football Association.
He was also on the roster to represent Perak in the Sultan’s Gold Cup, where they emerged as champions. He was thrilled as it was his first taste of glory.
This season, he hopes to help Perak defend the President’s Cup title. He also hopes to secure a spot to play college football either in the US or Canada so that he can earn his degree before he turns professional.
“Right now, I have a few offers from university coaches in the US but I am still waiting for the best offer, which includes a top academic programme alongside competitive soccer.
“I would not want to disappoint my parents who have put in lots of effort guiding and nurturing me. It is also better to secure an education before turning professional as you cannot always predict the future.
“In the long run, I am really hoping to play professional football abroad or locally and become one of the greatest goalkeepers in Malaysia, continuing the legacy of notable Chinese goalkeepers like Lim Chuan Chin and Chan Kok Fu,” he added.