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Singaporean Football Star with Disability Lands a Job
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Singaporean Football Star with Disability Lands a Job

He was stacked up against English former professional footballer David Beckham and even took Twitter by storm after scoring numerous long-range goals just a couple of years ago at the Asean Para Games.

Captain of Singapore's cerebral palsy football team at the games, Mr. Khairul Anwar was the first local player who scored a hat-trick at the new National Stadium. Despite garnering huge popularity and bagging a bronze medal, the 31-year-old footballer faced a slew of challenges when landing a good job, following his graduation from Republic Polytechnic.

Mr. Anwar, who holds a diploma in health management and prevention, sent about hundred job applications in the last three months acting in response to job openings in different sectors of retail, administration and even fitness industry but to no avail. He was so depressed that he was willing to take any job that came along.

Much to Mr. Anwar's relief, MCCY (Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth) came to his aid. It is the first ministry that gives a job to para-athletes under the spexBusiness government-funded scheme. Just last Monday, he started work with MCCY and has been assigned customer service and administrative tasks. MCCY will also be hiring para-equestrian athlete Maximillian Tan.

Earlier this year, Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean announced in Parliament that the public service is selecting champions amidst senior management in their agencies in order to spirit up the hiring and integration of people with disabilities. As of the end of 2016, the public service had hired nearly 270 disabled people.

MCCY's effort throws light on exactly how challenging it still is for not only Singaporeans but for disabled people across the globe to secure jobs. Even para-athletes face the same problem and employers are not keen on hiring them because many of them need breathing spell to get a workout, while others have low educational qualifications.

SpexBusiness kicked off back in 2013 in the bid to help athletes land good jobs. This scheme assisted 120 Team Singapore find either jobs or internships. Out of these, just about 20 have some sort of disabilities, while the rest are national para-athletes. While jobs are really hard to come by, some para-athletes even opted to sell tissue paper or writing materials in the streets hoping to earn some money.

22-year-old Muhd Shahrizan was one of them. Shahrizan represented the country in boccia in the last Asean Para Games and regrettably, he was left with no choice but to sell pens and keychains at Marsiling MRT station. The wheelchair-user was chased away by station staff because he did not hold a permit for it.

Shahrizan is a patient of cerebral palsy and suffers from a condition that affects lower extremities; however, he was hired by FutuReady, a youth development firm under the spexBusiness scheme. His job mainly comprised of data entry and logistics work.

Aside from Shahrizan, FutuReady also gave a job to two other para-athletes, providing them all flexi-work arrangements. As if that weren't enough, they located the workplaces on the ground floor keeping their accessibility in mind and even hold office meal gatherings only in disabled-friendly places.

Lining with this, a new scheme that assists the disabled, veterans along with the likes of addicts, and even those with criminal records is underway. Kentucky's Governor Matt Bevin made the announcement on Tuesday, June 13 at a ceremonial signing of an executive order.

While the announcement centered primarily on careers for people with disability, the executive order also rubber stamped the formation of the Kentucky Work Matters Task Force which touched shoulders for the first time following the news conference. The group also agreed to assist other groups that are incapable of joining the workforce because of the barriers -- both systemic and rooted in the mind of businesses that fail to be appreciative of the skills a few Kentuckians can bring to the job.

(Image: dickusvi / Pixabay)

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