Wrestling is not exactly a popular sport among Indonesians, unlike badminton or soccer.
However wrestling has long been a part of the country's culture in terms of traditional games for children, also known as embek-embekan (the sound of goats), especially in Java.
The Rachman Wrestling Camp at Pakissaji village in Malang, East Java, for instance, provides space for young people to train and learn how to become an athlete for free.
"It costs nothing, however, you must pay with your discipline, spirit and focus on training, and train to become an athlete," said 53-year-old head trainer, Fathur Rachman.
To become a wrestler, the first thing to work on is the mental and physical aspects. The best age to start training is 13 as the trainees have moved on from childhood.
The training schedule at the camp is Monday to Friday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., or after school is finished. Meanwhile training on Saturday and Sunday is from 7 a.m. to 12 noon.
Up to 30 young athletes are currently in training at the camp. Some of them are members of the regional administration's education program, originating from Banyuwangi, Blitar, Sidoarjo and Jember.
Most are still enrolled at junior and senior high school, however, there are also some who are already in college.
Dias Aditya, a 14-year-old student at SMP Bululawang junior high school shared that he had been training at the camp for a year, arriving after school at 2 p.m. and later joining mengaji (Quran recital) activities in the afternoon. After 6 p.m. he will go to the camp again to train.
"I enjoy wrestling; I don't have another activity at my house," Dias said, adding that he particularly found discipline and good attitude to be among the important things taught by the trainer.
"An athlete must have an instinct during a competition, and this needs to be sharpened over and over again during training. The level of intelligence of a person will affect the time they need to pass the stages of training. If it is only for sport, this won't matter," said Fathur.
"After four to six months of training, I can already determine [their intelligence]; whether they have the potential to become an accomplished wrestler at the national, regional or world levels."
However being a champion is not as important as maintaining the soul of the athlete, with regard to lifestyle, discipline, learning, mentality and morality. A lack of soul is the main setback for athletes in all sports in Indonesia, said Fathur. "Even if they have become a star athlete and have a good career, usually it won"t last long, only until they're 29 years old." [kes]