The Ailing Tiger
INDONESIA’s national soccer team made history during the Melbourne Olympics in 1956. Indonesia’s soccer team had also won championships in various prestigious sporting events in Asia and in Southeast Asia, thus earning the title “The Tiger of Asia.” Today however, the “tiger” seems to be sick.
Below are some ideas to restore the fierce glory of the “tiger.”
Improving the Competition and Training Pattern
MANY things about Indonesia’s soccer program need to be reorganized, from competitions, pattern of training, up to coping with the size of the country. This is the view of Obon Sya’ban, 66, a player of the Bandung Soccer Association in 1962-1973. Obon views the competitions among teams as being too close from one match to another. “The time to restore the players’ physical condition is too brief,” he says.
Also, there are no clear-cut mechanisms for the recruitment of national players. In the past, says Obon, there were two methods, that is, through associations and through the Major Soccer League (Galatama). Furthermore, according to him, the national team is formed instantly by picking up players from soccer clubs.
In addition, Indonesia’s sprawling archipelago is also a constraint. As a result, if a club from Medan competes against a club in Jayapura, the journey time is very long, thus causing the players to be exhausted by the travel.
STATE Minister for Youth & Sports, Andi Alfian Mallarangeng, 47, says cultivation from a young age constitutes the starting point in reorganizing Indonesian soccer. “However, we must not lose track of it because its continuity is not clear.”
According to Andi, this applies not only to soccer as every branch of sport should have a good foundation. “Athletes do not come down from the sky,” he says. The basic development of soccer players could start from school and local competitions.
The other problem, according to the Makassar-born man, is that soccer matches are often marred by hooliganism since the supporters come to the stadium carrying sharp instruments and making trouble.
Not to mention the technicality or style which is typically the way Indonesians play soccer. “What kind of strategy do we actually want to adopt?” he asks.
The national team’s 2:0 loss to Laos last December was a slap in the face because, according to Andi, since the VOC (Dutch East India Company) times, only today has Indonesia suffered a defeat by Laos. In former times, says Andi, there were three national teams that were all champions, namely the Banteng (Bull), Harimau (Tiger), and Garuda (Eagle) National Teams. Therefore, out of a population of 230 million, the national soccer team must not be only one. “There should at least be three teams,” he says.
Thio Him Tjiang
Coach and Spectators Trust
TO Thio Him Tjiang, 80, becoming a soccer player means gaining the trust of the spectators and the coach to play well. “The way to become a good soccer player is the willingness to obey what the coach instructs,” he says.
As one of the players in the Melbourne Olympics, he says a soccer player should also be smart and able to perceive the opponent’s move. “This is not in the lesson book,” he says, “as this depends on the situation.”
Him Tjiang says that at first he was reluctant to go to the Olympics as his left ankle was sprained. The rules back then forbade a change of players while the match was in progress. His coach, Tony Pogacnik, insisted he join the national team and it was a success.
Proper Standardization Essential
BOB Hippy, 65, was irritated when watching Indonesia’s national soccer team play Oman early in January. On television he saw an Indonesian player acting stupidly in the middle of the field even “when the ball was already at the tip of his shoe,” says this former national player in the Garuda Team during the 1960s.
Bob says this player should have decided whether to pass the ball to another player or dribble it himself. In his opinion, this is the result of the current incompetent soccer development. “Nothing is standardized,” he says. Standardization would apply not only to the players, the coach, and the referee, but also to the sports facilities.
The Chairman of the Foundation for Intinusa Olah Prima Soccer Academy (AS-IOP) says there is still a chance to restore the glory of Indonesian soccer. Citing Japan, he says that nation took 40 years to build a strong soccer team until they made it to the World Cup. “The domestic players should be developed from now on,” he says.
Finding the Right Cook
IT is not easy to create reliable soccer players and a strong national team. Former national team trainer Benny Dolo, 60, likens the situation to a restaurant where there should be an accomplished cook who can prepare the ingredients and serve a good meal. “The cook is the technical department,” he says.
The technical department which Benny means is one tasked to determine who the coach is, who the players of a certain age group are, how the competition is, and so on. “Today, such functions are still non-existent,” he says.
Consequently it seems that the people should be more patient before they can enjoy the victory of the national soccer team in matches. Benny says creating competent players and a strong national team calls for a long process. “Maybe in five to 10 years from now,” he says.
The first step, in his opinion, is cultivation of players from an early age. The Manado-born man also questions the lack of facilities for training. The national team, he says by way of an example, has to go to a lot of trouble to find a soccer field which meets international standards for training while the fund is still very limited.
When Benny coached the national team during the 2001-2002 and 2008-2010 periods, there was no government budget. “All spending is taken from personal contributors,” he says. Besides, the players belong to their clubs as they get paid by them. While playing on the national team is service to the nation and the state. “So the players find it hard to dissociate themselves from their clubs,” he says.
Benny also appeals to the people not to rebuke the national team too sharply if they lose a match. “Because this becomes an extremely hard mental burden,” he says. If they are bored with the same players, according to Benny, it is because there are no replacements yet. “The regeneration process is not functioning yet.”
MAULWI, 84, shakes his head when Tempo asks him about the current soccer situation. “We should have made great accomplishments,” he says. The captain of the national team that managed to make it to the 1956 Melbourne Olympics in Australia believes there should be a soccer reorientation.
“Do not think of only material gains, thus forgetting nationalism,” he says, commenting on a soccer player who applies a contract system and gets a monetary bonus if he scores a goal.
The right competition, according to Maulwi, is one of the essential ways to build a strong national team. When Maulwi was General Chairman of the Indonesia Soccer Association (PSSI) in 1964-1967, he would hold soccer matches for every age bracket. For example, the under-19 players would compete to win the Soeratin Soccer Cup.
Maulwi also suggests that foreign players be reduced in number. “They may not necessarily be superior in their techniques to us,” he says.