For 12 years, winger R. Surendran has only played with professional footballers.
From Pahang to PKNS, he has been teammates with top-notch professionals like Matthew Davies, Khairul Azhan Khalid, Razman Roslan, Dickson Nwakaeme, Mohd Hafiz Kamal, Azmi Muslim, and Ahmad Fakri Saarani.
The 2020 Super League is going to be different. The trickster is set to play with police officers.
Surendran, 32, is one of nine local professionals signed by Police coach Mohd Ishak Kunju Mohamed as the management decided to mix professionals and real policemen in the team.
“On the field, we are all footballers. It does feel different because, for years, I have been playing with professionals, ” said Surendran, who also played for Melaka.
“The officers are young. They can play good football, but they lack big competition exposure.
“Through training and friendlies, we can fix that. The management has set a target for us, which is to remain in the league.
“It is pretty exciting for me as a player because this is the first time I am playing in this kind of set-up.”
Besides Surendran, the other professionals in the side are S. Veenod from Petaling Jaya City, K. Satish on loan from PJ City, Asri Mardzuki on loan from Kedah and Dirga Surdi from M3 club Puchong Fuerza.
Surendran and Dirga will be the key wingers in the side and Ishak would rely on these two for crosses and passes from the flanks. On their day, they can terrorise defences with their pace and dribbling.
Surendran said the professionals had a huge responsibility as they are expected to anchor the team.
‘We were signed for a reason. Our job is to steer the others to greater heights. Also, we must be an example to the officers.
“We will guide them during training and also matches. This is also new to me, but I am up for it. Our chemistry is getting stronger, and we hope to be in top shape before our season opener against Sabah on March 1.”
Police, who last played in the top flight in 2016, are making their return after gaining promotion from the Premier League.
They, however, face an uphill battle as a budget cut has left them with a team with no big names.
Surendran said a phone call from Ishak was enough to tempt him to join the Cops, as he was looking for a new challenge.
“I am 32 now, so it is time for me to impart my football knowledge besides playing. Police felt like the best club to do so.
“Coach Ishak is a former player, so training under him certainly feels good. He understands each player and I hope I can repay his faith for the new season.”