FOR Benjamin Sim, becoming a professional basketball player was the one thing he always dreamed of since he was young. And in order to fulfill that dream, the Sarawak-born gave up a comfortable and well-paying corporate job in the finance industry to pursue a playing career with the KL Dragons.
And that was not all as the 1.80m guard even had to overcome a series of career threatening injuries. It was a difficult period for Benjamin in 2018 as he suffered two serious injuries (shoulder and knee) even before he could earn minutes with the Dragons in the Asean Basketball League.
Just when things were beginning to fall into place for Benjamin this year, the Covid-19 pandemic swept in and threw everything out of the window.
And as a result, all sporting events, including the ABL, are now suspended.
With the Movement Control Order (MCO) also in place, it throws serious doubt on the futures of basketball players.
Whilst frustrated with the current situation, Benjamin who turns 29 on May 7, is certainly keeping a positive front as he looks forward to the future after the MCO.
“I was a national junior team player from 2008-2010 and I would certainly say, at first glance, that my journey to become a professional basketball player has been quite a roundabout way compared to my peers,” said Benjamin.
“I knew it was a long term game for me because a lot of my peers retired from the game when they were between 23 to 25.
“I knew I had to equip myself with education and a career in the corporate sector before going pro and that is also why I was able to commit myself fully to the Dragons for the past two years without worrying too much about finance.
“And the experience of suiting up for the Dragons was indeed amazing. I dare say it was everything I wanted in achieving a dream regardless of whether I was playing during game days or not.
“But being a professional player also had its downsides and being injured during 2018 was also the most challenging period for me.
“Of course with the MCO and the ABL suspended has also been a big hit but it was really an unforeseen situation.
“I definitely wish the ABL had time to run its course this season since the Dragons were in a good spot but I personally believe nothing has really changed for me in terms of goals.
“I still remain fully committed to the Dragons and their programme for as long as they would require my services and I’m proud to say that I fought till the end.
“Of course I don’t foresee myself playing basketball a whole lot longer and I certainly have other projects lined up for the future including a possible project that is meant to revitalise basketball in the future,” added Benjamin.
For now, the ever-smiling Benjamin who is also a Muslim-convert after marrying his long-time partner Marissa Zaidi in 2018, is looking forward to spending more time with family during the MCO whilst also looking forward to the Ramadan fasting period.
“We’ve been together for about four years and she has been absolutely very supportive of my basketball career, including the days when I was injured,” said Benjamin.
“The biggest change for me was the first year we were together as I was new to the culture, family practice and religion since my family was predominantly Buddhist but I’ve been learning how to be a good Muslim and it’s been enlightening.
“The MCO period has certainly made me a lot closer to family and at the end of the day, Hari Raya would mean so much more being able spend more time together prior to it.”