GUA MUSANG: The old Malay adage, ‘you can tell the fate of a chicken from its claws but not so for human beings’ best describes the luck of an Orang Asli child of the Bateq tribe, from Kampung Aring 5, here, when he was selected to join Johor Darul Takzim (JDT) Academy.

Sa’ap Baharom, 12, said he has been dreaming of joining a famous football club for a long time but did not expect to be selected as a football academy player.

He said what was more surprising was that he was personally approached by the JDT Scouting & Youth Development Department Head Diego Griffa who also met his father Baharom Pinang, 50, for approval to join the academy.

“I started playing football at seven at Sekolah Kebangsaan Pasir Linggi and was encouraged by the teachers to represent the school to play at a higher level. I also look up to Arif Aiman Hanapi who plays for the JDT squad, he has been my idol in football.

“I have dreamt of becoming a famous player like my idol but thought it was impossible because I am just an Orang Asli villager in Gua Musang,“ he told reporters here today.

Sa’ap said he was grateful to sign a three-year contract with JDT.

“This Thursday (Sept 21) I will go to Johor Bahru with JDT representatives. I have mixed feelings at the moment. I am feeling both anxious and excited.

“I am determined not to waste the opportunity to polish the talent I have to become a professional player one day. I want to change the fate of the family,“ he said.

Meanwhile, Orang Asli Kampung Aring 5 chief Raina Anjang, 53, said the selection of the lucky teen to join the academy was a source of pride for their tribe.

“The Bateq people are very proud of Sa’ap’s achievements as he is the first of our tribe to be chosen to play with a professional football club.

“I hope that Sa’ap’s success story can become a source of inspiration to other Orang Asli children, especially among the Bateq tribe because I believe there is still much untapped talent among us,“ he said. - Bernama