updated 20 Mar 2013, 12:12
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Fri, Mar 15, 2013
The Straits Times
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A mum's pride glows as boys pursue dream
by Wang Meng Meng

Wendy Jacobs was a busy woman early Monday morning at Changi Airport's Terminal 3.

From making sure that her older sons Irfan and Ikhsan Fandi Ahmad had packed right for the cooler climate of Spain, to chatting with well-wishers and members of the media who came to see her boys off, Jacobs was at the centre of it all. Yet she took it all in her stride.

As the mother of two of Singapore's brightest footballing prospects, she is accustomed to juggling the role of chauffeur, doting mother to all five of her children, and head of the household - as husband Fandi is often away coaching in Malaysia.

Watching her sons bid goodbye to their school buddies, Jacobs felt a sense of pride at seeing her bigger boys take their first step towards realising their dream of playing professional football.

"Since young, they have displayed the passion to become professional footballers," she told The Straits Times.

"So Fandi and I sat down with them and they told us this is what they wanted.

"This is why Fandi and I invested in their training. We are still investing in them going overseas."

Yet it was not too long ago that life seemed bleak for the 39-year-old former model.

It all started with a fall she had in the bathroom in January 2009 when Fandi was coach at Indonesian club Pelita Jaya in Jakarta.

It is unclear if she hit her head during the fall, but she found herself losing her speech and the movement of her limbs.

Three hospitals in the Indonesian capital were unable to pinpoint what, exactly, was wrong.

And then, it got worse. A month later, she suffered a cardiac arrest. She had to be airlifted to Gleneagles Hospital in Singapore by a private plane and put in a drug-induced coma to stabilise her condition. She stayed in an induced state and was warded for two months. That left the left side of her body numb for six months.

It was not until 2011 that she started to see some real progress, but before she recovered fully, she suffered another setback last July when she had to undergo brain surgery to remove a benign tumour the size of a 50-cent coin.

Much of what she remembers from 2009 to 2011 is still a blur.

She has had to rely on family and friends to help her piece together what happened during her mysterious illness.

And she is grateful to those close to the family who helped look after her children - including the three younger ones, only daughter Iman, 13, and younger sons Ilhan, 10, and Iryan, six.

She said: "I missed two years of Irfan and Ikhsan's development as a result of my illness. I learnt from family and friends that my boys had been unable to attend training because I was sick.

"But they had their father, friends and family helping them all the way. I just hope that for those years that I missed, they will make it up for me, be it through appearing in newspapers, on television or even saying "hi" to me on Skype, that will be good enough for me."

Jacobs, who now freelances as an etiquette teacher at ITE College Central, is still on medication to control the occasional seizure.

Looking healthy and radiant, Fandi's wife of 17 years said that although the family has invested a significant amount of money - believed to be a six-figure sum - to allow Irfan and Ikshan to chase their dreams, she cannot put a price tag on the happiness she felt yesterday.

She chirped: "Money is nothing when it comes to seeing them achieve what they want to achieve."

And as her sons attempt to show they have what it takes to succeed in Europe, she too has promised to take on her illness head on, saying: "I am on the road to recovery but it will be a long road. Every day is a challenge. I still don't know what's wrong with me. The entire period was a blur."

Then, looking skywards, she added: "There's only one person up there who does. Everyone will have their trials and tribulations. This is my trial and I will come out triumphant."

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