People don’t look at the process
WHETHER it has been said openly or behind the scenes, one of the objectives of the National Soccer Congress in Malang, East Java last week, was to oust Nurdin Halid, Chairman of the Indonesian Football Association (PSSI). The reason, sources said, was that he was seen to be responsible for the poor performance of our national team. One hurtful example was when Indonesia was beaten by Laos 2:0 at the SEA Games last year. For four years consecutively, soccer failed to win any medal during sports competitions in the Southeast Asia region.
What does Nurdin Halid, who has held this position for the past seven years, have to say? The following are excerpts from a Tempo interview with 60-year-old Nurdin, who hails from Watampone, South Sulawesi, two weeks ago.
Are you aware of the people’s disappointment in the national soccer team?
I can understand people’s disappointment when they base our national team’s failure on the basis of their defeats. Some see the PSSI as a stagnant organization. This is because the people are not looking at the process. The reason for the team’s very poor performance is the inadequate training right from the start.
After our loss to Laos, people think it’s the end of the world to have lost to a tiny country like that. Meanwhile, we don’t know what the Laos government has done for the team. For four years, the government of that country spent money on soccer and improved its infrastructure. So, the poor performance of our soccer team today should not reflect the current implementation of the PSSI program.
So, what is PSSI’s program to improve the soccer team’s performance?
By modernizing the organization, build its infrastructure, reform the amateur league, upgrade the quality of professional players and trainers, improve marketing techniques and a lot more that must be done. This concept has been carried out for the past two years. Of course, the results cannot be seen in five years, or even 10 years’ time. But after that, a much improved performance will be evident.
What are the obstacles facing the PSSI?
No standards are applied to our young players concerning diet, physical requirements and talent. People’s economic standards are still low. Yet most of our players come from low-income families. We have asked the government to focus on soccer through the office of education. How? By including soccer as part of the elementary school curriculum and providing them with supplementary nutrition.
Why do you think the government did not allow PSSI to take part in the bidding to host the 2022 World Cup?
I support the government’s decision if it has other more important priorities. But I feel nominating Indonesia as host of the 2022 World Cup event is not such a crazy idea. If the program I mentioned is carried out well, I am convinced we can take part in the World Cup.
Anyway, if we don’t bid now, we will have to wait another 37 years before we can do it again. Besides, all countries are invited to bid and there is no requirement allowing only countries with good performing national teams to take part in the bidding.
In fact, last year, the government supported the PSSI’s application to host the World Cup, but then it changed its mind when it came to the government guarantee phase. The Youth & Sports Minister regarded the World Cup as not one of the government’s priorities today. But, isn’t this still the SBY government?
Our national soccer team is in such bad shape that some people are calling for your resignation as PSSI Chairman. What do you think?
You cannot say that because the national team has failed, the leadership of the PSSI under Nurdin Halid is bad. I don’t need to listen to these views because they originate from disappointment and hatred towards me. I will dance to other people’s tune. But if the association members ask me to resign, I will respectfully obey and take my leave. PSSI has its norms, its governance and its ethics.
What will you do about the recommendations of the congress?
The recommendations must be carried out so long as they do not contravene the PSSI constitution. Whatever the recommendations, we will refer it to the constitution. If they are purely to advance the cause of the PSSI and to improve its performance, I will implement it 100 percent.