Brothers' Inspiring Journey: Supporting Malaysia in the Asian Cup with Unwavering Passion
BY: Michelle Liew
In the world of football, the love for the game transcends barriers, embracing individuals from all walks of life. Raff Iskandar Erman Effendi, a fervent supporter of the Harimau Malaya squad, exemplifies this spirit as he stands by his younger brother, Muhammad Ridzwan, in a journey that goes beyond the boundaries of visual impairment.
Muhammad Ridzwan, at the age of 27, was born with a visual impairment, yet harbours the same fervour for football as any other local enthusiast. His dream, akin to many others, is to be present in the stadium, cheering for the national team, both at home and on foreign soil.
The duo's story takes a poignant turn as they set their sights on a monumental event – the 2023 Asian Cup in Qatar. Aware of Muhammad Ridzwan's aspiration to be part of Malaysia's historic campaign, Raff Iskandar wastes no time in making the decision to fly to Qatar, accompanying his brother on this remarkable journey.
For Raff Iskandar, the challenge is not in the act itself, as attending football matches in Malaysia is routine. However, the significance lies in experiencing the Asian Cup atmosphere, especially after Malaysia broke a 42-year-long hiatus to qualify on merit. Through hand gestures and descriptive simulations, Raff Iskandar ensures that his brother feels every moment of the game, even if he can't see it.
The Asian Cup kicked off for Malaysia with a match against Jordan in Group E, setting the stage for what promises to be a thrilling campaign. Meanwhile, Muhammad Ridzwan, whose passion extends beyond the visual realm, expresses his love for the stadium atmosphere, an environment that transcends visual limitations.
"My hope this time is the same as everyone else's – to see Malaysia win. But I want Malaysian players to know that among the many fans, I'm someone who comes to hear Malaysia win, not to watch them win," says the youngest of seven siblings.
Raff Iskandar, 31, and Muhammad Ridzwan, both hailing from Perak, arrived in Qatar with a mission to witness all three of Malaysia's matches – against Bahrain, South Korea (two-time champions), and the clash with Jordan. Alongside thousands of national team fans, they are part of the Malaysian contingent adding vibrancy to the Asian football extravaganza.
For Malaysia, this Asian Cup marks the end of a 42-year wait to qualify on merit, and the national team aspires to script history by advancing to the round of 16. It is a journey filled with hope, passion, and the unwavering spirit of fans like Raff Iskandar and Muhammad Ridzwan, who prove that football is truly a sport for all.