14 December 2018 – In less than 24 hours, all eyes will be on Vietnam and Malaysia as they battle to lift their second AFF Suzuki Cup trophy in the history of the competition. Observe the team captains carefully, and one may spot a unique – or somewhat rustic – band of cloth decorating their arms. These armbands are rich in meaning and thick with symbolism.

During the course of the tournament, patriotic fans were asked to pledge support for their teams by sharing stories on social media about heroic individuals and courageous acts that had riveted local communities in their home country.

Through the crowdsourced stories, a local hero was selected and asked to contribute a piece of garment that he or she had worn at a significant point in their life. These materials, with the underlying inspirational messages, were hand-stitched onto armbands that were presented to the team captains of Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam – ahead of their semi-final matches.

Watch the campaign teaser here

Meant to inspire courage and evoke fearlessness, the armbands when worn by the captains as they led their teams to battle, symbolised the entire country banding together to support their national team – as the players fought for their country’s pride and honour miles away from home.

Regarded as the “World Cup” of Southeast Asia, the biennial AFF Suzuki Cup is contested by the region’s national ‘A’ teams, and boasts record television ratings as well as sold-out stadia.

The bespoke armbands were presented to the captains of Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam in a box embossed with these poignant words: ‘For the Fearless, Far Away from Home’.

With this year’s updated tournament format providing more opportunities for fans to back their national team on home ground, Lagardère Sports – the ASEAN Football Federation’s long-term commercial partner – capitalised on the game’s intense rivalry to roll out a ‘Your Home, Their Fear’ campaign, supported by creative agency, Iris.

Watch the tournament teaser here

As part of the campaign, the Captain’s Armband initiative was launched in the weeks leading up to the semi-finals. Heroes were handpicked by local communities in each country via a call-to-arms and crowdsourcing of stories on AFF Suzuki Cup’s social media platforms. Fans eagerly contributed stories with the objective of helping to instil national pride and build confidence in their team ahead of the battle.

These are some of the noteworthy stories:


  • Anirut Malee – Faced with a man wielding a knife, police officer Anirut Malee showed no signs of fear. Instead of using aggression to disarm the man, he calmly talked him into handing the knife over and instead of making an arrest, gave the man a hug.
  • Puntouch Pongstidtanachod – Following the devastating flood in Thailand, Puntouch Pongstidtanachod went into the provinces worst affected to help those who needed aid the most. His only motivation was to be of service to honour his great King. Today, he is the founder of a volunteer group named People of the Great King, who have been credited with setting up the first Elephant Birth Unit in Lam Pang province.


  • Arnold Balais – At the age of 15,  Arnold Balais lost his right leg. He overcame all odds to become a decorated Paralympian and the first amputee to scale Mt Alpo – the highest mountain in Philippines.
  • Dr Sainuddin Moti – A five-month-long armed conflict had devastated Dr Sainuddin Moti’s hometown of Marawi City and left the Maranao doll maker’s life in tatters. Even though his doll store and collections had been reduced to rubble, Dr Moti pressed on to rebuild the legacy from ground zero, determined to continue using his art to protect the precious Maranao culture.
  • Shaiy Daquiz – In her first 5km obstacle course race, 24-yr old Shaiy Daquiz from Pampanga failed 14 obstacles out of 20 and took almost three hours to complete the race. Disappointed but undaunted, she mustered courage to train amongst intimidating athletes far fitter than her. Today, this brave woman is a 4-time Spartan Race champion.
  • Ramil Jaictin – Orphaned at a young age and left without the ability to walk without aid, Ramil Jaictin is no stranger to adversity. Today, he has surmounted all challenges to become a motivational speaker, singer-songwriter, activist for people with disabilities, and the founder of ‘Kids for the Future Philippines’ in Butuan City.


  • Kuan Chee Heng – Known affectionately in Malaysia as the 10-sen man, Kuan Chee Heng who was once a victim of bullying, is experiencing a truly flourishing life as a beloved philanthropist who provides amenities and necessities to impoverished Malaysians of all races.


  • Saigon SOS – Despite having regular day jobs, these vigilante riders patrol the streets of Ho Chi Minh from dusk till dawn, answering emergency calls. At the risk of putting themselves in danger, they have saved countless lives without accepting any payments in return.