Tag Archives: Football

Highlights and Lowlights from an Indonesian Awayday

This was going to be my post last week but Sidd’s death while I was away obviously took precedent.

If you’ve been following my work over the past several months, there is one subject that I’ve written about more than any other: Indonesian football. Last weekend I was away with a group of fellow Bali United supporters (aka Semeton Dewata) on the first leg of their quarterfinal tie with Arema Cronus, the team from Malang in East Java. I’m not going to go too in depth because I’ll hopefully be putting together a larger piece for publication elsewhere in the not-too-distant future. But I still thought I’d share some highlights and lowlights. We’ll start with the latter.

Lowlights:

  • 25+ hours on a bus. We left Friday evening and drove through the night. Malang is somewhere between an 11- and 13-hour drive away and on a bus where the seats are frankly not made for 6-foot-4 (and a half) gentlemen, that’s a long ride. I ended up sleeping on the floor for a couple hours. My travelling companion (who was also too large for the seats) and I were hoping to get some sleep but rather than a quiet and restful environment and in addition the cramped quarters, Indonesian karaoke music was blaring until around 3am. The ride back was somewhat more subdued but longer (around 14 hours).

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    Travel-buddy Brant and a group from the bus. The one giving me the middle finger is Gus. He’s calling me a “stupid fruit” which is his favorite compliment He’s also the leader of the entire supporters group.

  • Bali United lost 2-1. And played poorly. Arema’s stadium is a pretty intimidating environment and United fielded a young squad but their defense was disorganized and their midfield got pushed around. When they had possession they did use their width well but they’re going to have to play much better in their home leg this evening if they’re going to advance.

Highlights: 

  • Malang is a cool city in more ways than one. The city sits in the East Javanese highlands and apart from the middle of the day, the temperature is perfect. Because of this cooler highland climate, the city was popular among the colonial Dutch as an escape from the unending heat of Surabaya – a major port a couple hours to the north – and so it is well-planned with wide tree-lined boulevards and art-deco buildings that are older than the Indonesian nation.

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    The main roundabout in Malang. Cars look funny in panorama.

  • Bali United only lost 2-1 and they scored an away goal.
    The three goals reported in a local paper. The third goal was basically this guy Samsul waltz his way through half the United defense.

    The three goals reported in a local paper. The third goal was basically this guy Samsul waltz his way through half the United defense.

    In truth it could’ve been much worse. Despite United taking the lead through a 66th minute penalty, Arema looked the more dangerous team throughout and hit the post more than once. Because of the away goal, Bali United only need to win 1-0 to advance to the semifinals.

  • Joining in the Semeton Dewata cheering section. Ok so maybe ‘joining’ isn’t exactly the correct word since I didn’t actually do much singing. The words were in Indonesian and I’m not one for going too gila. It also seemed like the Semeton Dewata were
    The Semeton Dewata arrive at Stadion Kanjuruhan.

    The Semeton Dewata arrive at Stadion Kanjuruhan.

    more interested in their chants than the actual gameplay, which is what I really wanted to see. Still, between the constant beat of drums from our corner and watching the 20,000+ members of Aremania perform their own chants across the pitch, it was definitely an experience.

After that bus trip, you better believe I’ll be making the hour ride up to Stadion Kapten Dipta for the decider this evening. I’ll make sure to keep you updated.

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Athletes Anonymous

Hi my name is Rowan and I’m addicted to playing sports. I first got hooked probably around the age of eight or so and have been pretty consistently playing some sport or another since. When I don’t play sports regularly I get grumpy and depressed.[i] I don’t mean to make light of actual addictions but I’m pretty sure this is one of mine so when I moved to Jakarta in January, I pretty quickly looked up, hunted down[ii], and joined a pick-up basketball game on Mondays and Thursdays in Hall C of the Gelora Bung Karno[iii] Sports Complex in the Senayan neighborhood of Jakarta.

The GBKSC – apart from a number of basketball, badminton, and tennis courts, a swimming complex, minor football pitches and a plethora of other facilities and stadiums- houses the Stadion Utama Gelora Bung Karno (Gelora Bung Karno Main Stadium), the home of the Merah-Putih.[iv] The complex was built for the 1962 Asian Games with a generous grant from the Soviet Union and from the look of Hall C, hasn’t been funded much since.

The gym was hot and tight and the floor was something hard that I’d never seen a gym-floor made of before (and I’ve seen a few gym-floors in my time) but the competition was decent[v] with some impressively skilled players- some of whom took full advantage of their home-court rims, and I met a few good guys including a couple Americans that were working in JakTown. I was just getting into a rhythm and getting some good runs in when we[vi] decamped to Bali, leaving both our little three-room apartment in Kalibata City and Hall C behind until the next time I’m in Jakarta on a Monday or Thursday.

Fortunately, upon arriving in Bali I walked right into the Bali Pugs Football Club (est. 2009). Our trial visit to Bali happened to coincide with the playing of Super Bowl XVIX and I watch that glorious occasion with a fellow from Seattle who has lived in Indonesia since 1999 but during that time has kept up impressively with the North American sporting landscape. He also co-founded the Pugs six years ago and has been co-captain ever since.

I’ve played futsal[vii] with the Pugs for the past two months and, while we had a beach soccer (which is a stupid sport and one of the few I really don’t enjoy) tournament last month and a few challenge matches over that time, tonight (Friday, the 24th of April, Year of our Lord 2015) is our first competitive tournament, so I’ve written this to kill the time until I need to put on the sacred Orange and White and head to Sanur Futsal for our 1900h kickoff. So there you go, first post. And, omitting footnotes, under 500 words. PFL.

 

Update: Champions

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[i] Quick anecdote: After Nadia and I moved to Bali we were heading back to Java for a weekend and I tried desperately to time it right so I could go. I forget exactly why but I ended up not being able to and was grumpy for much of the trip because of it. I think the sign of a true addiction is when it starts affecting those around you so, ya. I think we’re there.

[ii] Quite literally had to hunt down… The first time I went looking for the GBKSC, Google sent me to another Bung Karno Sports Complex about a kilometer away (which, in Jakarta’s traffic, can take an hour if you’re unlucky) and I had to take another taxi and a then walk 15 minutes to find the right spot.

[iii] Bung Karno is the nickname of Indonesia’s first president Sukarno.

[iv] The Red and White, Indoesia’s national colors and the nickname of their national football side.

[v] High enough for me who hadn’t played very much at all in the previous eighteen months…

[vi] Myself and my partner-in-crime Nadia who I’m sure will be featured heavily in Sem Stories

[vii] This is really all that Indonesians play for lack of better facilities. It’s five-a-side including a keeper and played on a pitch the size of a basketball court that’s made of the rubber-pellet turf stuff that leaves you with little black spots all over even after you shower.