In a competitive sporting world, a group of visually-impaired amateur Malaysian footballers set their sights on becoming professional players – against all odds.
AZWAN “KENCHOT” AZHAR (25)
Azwan, nicknamed “Kenchot” because of his short and stout build. This seasoned player comes from a small fishing village south of Malaysia, where his mother and younger siblings still live. He struggles to juggle his time between his day job as a reflexologist and playing football.
ABOUT THE MALAYSIAN
BLIND FOOTBALL TEAM
In 2009, Coach Sunny Shalesh formed a part-time recreational blind football team consisting of students and masseurs. His objective: to give these blind youth a chance to live their dreams of being footballers. Being a part-time team, they struggled with their budget. To help make ends meet, most of the players retained their day jobs and had to travel for hours from their homes in different states in order to train on weekends.
However, despite their struggles, this tiny Malaysian part-time team took on defending ASEAN Para Games champions Thailand in 2015, emerging the new regional champions of blind football. Their success got them instated as full-time athletes under the National Sports Council, where they received the support and training they needed for their debut as defending champions at the 2017 Para Games in Kuala Lumpur.
DIRECTOR/PRODUCER | YIHWEN CHEN
In the last decade, Wen edited, wrote, produced and directed international documentaries. Currently, she is a senior producer at R.AGE, an award-winning investigative journalism platform at The Star, Malaysia’s top English daily. Wen is also an alumni of IDFAcademy. Recently, her second feature documentary, Queer As Punk won the EDN Award at Docedge Kolkata. The project also received support from Goethe-Institut Malaysia and MyDocs.
CINEMATOGRAPHER | WONG CHIN HOR
Chin Hor is an award-winning cinematographer who has travelled the globe, filming stories that have aired on major international networks including National Geographic Channel, BBC, Discovery Channel, Channel News Asia, Nat Geo Wild, and the History Channel, to name a few.
EDITOR | JOHN HAFIZ
John Hafiz is a film editor based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. His first break was in 2014 when a short film he edited, Rozita Binti Roslan, won the Grand Prize at BMW Shorties, the biggest and longest running local short film festival in Malaysia. The film was screened at international film festivals including Cambodia International Film Festival and Short Shorts Film Festival in Tokyo.
MUSIC COMPOSER | THOMAS E. ROUCH
Based in Melbourne, Australia, Thomas’ work as a film composer has seen him score seven feature films, earning him multiple screen music award nominations and winning the award for Best Music at the British Independent Film Festival 2014. Thomas’ music can also be heard around the globe, licensed to hit factual, drama and reality TV.
MUSIC COMPOSER | ZACH TAY
Zach Tay is a film composer, orchestral conductor and performing musician based in Melbourne, Australia. He conducted the St Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra and Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra in concert. He founded and directed Orchestre Nouveau, a project symphony orchestra incorporating Melbourne’s elite classical musicians, composers and contemporary artists. His live orchestral work with Autumn Gray called ‘Live in Fed Square’ was recorded and available on major platforms.
I never had a blind friend before I met the football team. Through their eyes, I saw another world which I never knew. Perhaps it was these qualities that drew me to them, and drove me to tell their stories.
To many, the idea of making a feature-length documentary in Malaysia sounds like crazy talk. But every time I feel defeated and downtrodden, I sit at the bleachers to watch the boys train and remind myself that if a group of blind boys can learn to play football and become Southeast Asian champions, I can surely find a way to complete my film.
In particular, Coach Sunny’s courage and grit constantly inspires me to not give up. Whereas, the boys taught me that we are all just the same regardless of colour, gender and creed.
And that sometimes, a blind person sees the world more clearly than some of us who are sighted.
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