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“God has used my passion for football, taking me into urban and rural communities, national and international levels”- Samuel Siew, football coach and educator

“Growing up, football has always been my best friend,” says Samuel Siew. 

The professional football coach and educator remembers always looking for things to kick, from water bottles and their caps to cans, stones… “basically anything round and movable,” he recounted. 

Despite his background in computer networking and security, Samuel has dedicated over a decade to driving progress in football, both on and off the field.

God has opened doors nationally and internationally for him to coach people from all walks of life, from professional players to children from underprivileged communities. 

His story is about how God saved a wandering youth and turned his passion toward positively impacting communities and individuals, in big and small ways.

From a young age, Samuel loved football.

Saved by the Word of God

Born and raised in Kota Bharu, Kelantan, Samuel knew God from an early age. His father was the senior pastor of Kota Bharu Gospel Centre and his mother taught English at a national school.

“My dad always taught us (two older sisters and me) to pray together as a family once a week, do our devotion and serve in church. I have been a drummer since I was seven years old,” he said. 

However, as life rolled along and distractions came aplenty, Samuel began living on the fringes of Christianity.

In his college years, he was drawn into the world of football betting. 

“I thought I was smart enough to know football, which team is better, and I also needed money at the time for new things and gadgets cos I had FOMO (fear of missing out),” he laughed. 

But after a betrayal by a close friend that caused him to incur losses, God brought him to his lowest. 

One day, he randomly flipped to 1 Peter 2:18, and the words “Submit also to the cruel, I do good and suffer, Christ also suffered for you leaving you an example” resonated deeply. As he continued reading, verse 25 struck him: “For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.”

“It was truly a wake-up call. I reflected upon my life and how I was wasting my college days away playing DotA on Friday nights, watching football and skipping church because I was too tired from staying up till the wee hours,” Samuel shared. 

That weekend, Samuel rededicated his life to Jesus and since then, his heart posture has changed. 

From going to church out of duty, he now knows how much he needs God in his life. 

Rising in the ranks of football coaching

Investing in young lives through football, Sam co-founded Dream Village Football Academy in 2014.

A natural talent, Samuel easily made friends on and off the pitch. 

In 2012, shortly after graduating, he joined Asian Youth Ambassadors to develop and coordinate grassroots football programmes and financial literacy for underprivileged communities in the Klang Valley. 

Two years later, he co-founded Dream Village Football Academy (DVFA), a social enterprise aimed at making a difference through Skills, Social Development, Studies, and Spirit. DVFA dedicates time and resources to training boys and girls aged 6-14 who are passionate about football or aspire to build a career in the sport.

Under Samuel’s leadership, DVFA grew to have 171 football players under its training programs and was the go-to academy for those seeking professional training. This enabled the social enterprise to be financially sustainable. 

“While many NGOs (back then) relied on a fundraising model to support their operations, we wanted to develop DVFA into a sustainable business because we knew that we were adding value and providing top service to our players,” he said.

With a credible track record, DVFA soon caught the eye of the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM), and in 2018, Samuel joined FAM as Head of Grassroots. 

While building DVFA, Samuel also obtained his international coaching licence in the UK, a stepping stone for new open doors ahead. 

Landing a dream job in the UK

A dream come true: Sam working with Train Effective London.

At FAM, Samuel helped to develop key programmes for 6-12-year-olds, nurturing homegrown talent. The three years, he says, were a time of intense growth as he moved beyond coaching into management. 

Then in 2020, he landed a dream job in London with Train Effective London, organising scouting showcase camps and working alongside coaches from the academies of top football clubs in the English Premier League. 

“God is the one who opens and closes doors. As long as I work according to His will and His purpose, what is becoming more evident is that He always puts to use what He puts us through — using our highs and lows. We are the vehicle and vessel to be used by Him,” he shared. 

Sports brings people together

For Samuel, football (and sports) can be a vehicle for people’s dreams. 

“I always tell people and coaches that if we put a ball between us now, regardless of the language we speak, our skin colour, background, religion, or ability, we can connect and play with one another. In a football stadium, a burger seller and a king can both be cheering for the same team,” he said. 

The passionate coach encourages fellow believers to go out into the courts, fields, mountains and marketplace. 

Sports, he maintains, is an easy way to invite participation and foster meaningful relationships.

“There’s hiking, camping, walks, running and Gen Z- dominated sports like bouldering, badminton, even golf,” he enthused, adding that people who are seeking change are drawn to imperfect, sincere people. 

It’s an ongoing lesson even for the coach and educator, especially as life gets busier.

Sam with friends from university days after a futsal session, maintaining friendships on and off the court.

Busy days, sustained by His grace

At present, Samuel spearheads the team at Courtsite, a digital platform for sports facilities. 

As a professional coach and educator, he is also sought after for government and corporate initiatives related to youth and sports. 

He is a Sports Administrator Course trainer for the Olympic Council of Malaysia, is part of organising the Battle of the Reds 2024 (Manchester United vs Liverpool Legends match) and is frequently invited to speak at sports industry and community events. 

Samuel also sits on the Board of Impact Integrated, a strategic catalyst agency dedicated to youth empowerment under the purview of the Ministry of Youth and Sports. 

It’s a lot, but the young man also prioritises family and sets aside Sundays to spend with them. 

“I’m working on maintaining work-life balance, knowing what to really prioritise and how to manage time well,” he said simply. 

God opens doors for exciting opportunities. In 2024, Sam is part of the organising committee for Battle of the Reds.

The best is yet to come

As a sportsman, Samuel is an advocate of discipline as a grounding factor in life. Every morning before leaving for work, he goes through the following steps: 

  • Kneel down to pray for a few minutes (reciting the Lord’s Prayer, asking God to bless the work of his hand, the things he speaks, sees, hears and thinks) 
  • Reads his daily passage on the YouVersion Bible app
  • Does 30 push-ups 
  • Grabs his coffee and heads for the door

“I always feel refreshed knowing that I have started the day right with God and that the rest of the day is in His hands,” he finished by saying. 

Indeed, Samuel’s life events seem to be a well-planned series of plays on the pitch of life. Some of his favourite verses are Psalm 1:1-3.

He believes he has a part to play in transforming the sports ecosystem through technology and innovation and bolstering sports at the community level. 

As he reflects on the past twelve years, he sees God’s hand in using football as a vehicle and his willing heart as a vessel, both on and off the field. 

“God has used my passion for football, taking me into urban and rural communities, local, national and international levels, allowing me to coach people from all backgrounds and impact lives. It’s funny how I graduated in IT and now am back in the IT field (with Courtsite),” he mused. 

To Samuel, it’s all quite surreal but he believes even better things are yet to come. 

“The journey can be tiring, but it is fulfilling and I’ve crossed paths with so many lives,” he said gratefully. “Really, nothing is impossible and I can do all of this through God who strengthens me.”

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