• Asian Cup
  • 26 December 2018

Al-Nafisa .. The "young swimmer" from the "premier" to "continental crowning"

It never came to the mind of the 15-year-old young man, while swinging in one of Al-Kharj swimming pools, that he would turn into an idol for the generations to praise; as he was exercising his hobby in a small basin that was flooded with water once and dreams racing with the dreamer at other times.

Shaya Al-Nafisa, very famous in Al-Siyeh or "Al-Baqsha" (one of the neighborhoods of Al-Kharj) and known among the people of his region as the "artist swimmer", went in the mid-seventies of the last century to Al-Kawkab Club with his wishes that he rearranged from time to time, lost between a talent with which he was obsessed and the football game that he liked, and after long irresolution, he was recorded as a player in the "football" team in the lists, and then went to the closed hall to join the swimming team.

He wrote the first line in his career when he drew attention to his quickness in the swimming pools, until one day he joined the National Team, and while this young swimmer was interested in moving towards a goal that he set for himself in water sports, he found himself at a crossroads between a swimming career for his slim body to move and a "ball" that he adored and used to amateurly exercise with his friends every day after sunset.

Two ways were described by Al-Kawkab coach as he said: "You have to choose". Shaya's heartbeat accelerated, as it was inevitable to choose between them due to the conflicting timing of the swimming and football training. So, he calmly said: "I want to play football."

In late 1979, members of a talent-discovery company went to Al-Kharj Governorate to attend a match between Al-Kawkab's youth and Al-Sharq's youth. They were mesmerized by the talent of Al-Nafisa, who led his team to win by five clean goals, all of which were scored by him. Hence, the Company submitting a report on an "promising player" who would add to the Saudi National Team that was then preparing to participate in the 5th Gulf Cup, and therefore Shaya was included in the list of players participating in that tournament.

Although he was representing Al-Kawkab in the Premier League, Shaya continued to fly in the skies of the "green-shirted" team with the "Hawks" when he had the opportunity to participate in the Asian Cup in Singapore in 1984, which witnessed a Saudi brilliance despite having been its first time to participate in the continental competition, and in the midst of the "green-shirted" team's impressive performance, Al-Nafisa reached with his colleagues the final match to meet a fierce opponent, namely China.

Al-Nafisa recalls the crucial moments, saying: "I never expected to go into the confrontation at all", but Coach Khalil Al-Zayani was revising the main list in a hierarchical order until it was the forwards' turn; he called: "Shaya Al-Nafisa". the talented player could not believe his ears. Al-Zayani started to morally prepare him and told him that he was fully aware of what he was doing and then he spoke to him confidently: "You will contribute to making a lot along with Majid Abdullah. You will comfortably move and also benefit from his moves." Before going to sleep on the eve of the historical match, Shaya said to his colleague, Goalkeeper Abdullah Al-Daadee: "I will score a goal against China."

On Sunday, December 16, 1984, Al Nafisa entered the field of Kallang Stadium in Singapore with the "Hawks" to compete with the Chinese team, recalling every moment he lived for the sake of realizing a dream only 90 minutes away from him. Only ten minutes after the referee's whistle, Shaya was watching the ball while it was flying in the sky, and China's goal was behind him. The "swimmer" quickly and charmingly turned and kicked the ball to hit the nets, paving the way to victory, and then he was followed by Majid Abdullah with another goal, enabling the National Team to top the podium as a champion of Asia, after which Shaya returned back to his home country with an unforgettable goal, a "golden medal" with a scent of determination and perseverance, and a history to be remembered at every continental edition.


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