The Jakarta Post
Although financial problems and social fallacies seemed to wear down Viqi Ramadhan's motivation for school, his dream of becoming a soccer player never waned.
When his neighborhood authority at Kampung Jembatan, East Jakarta, made an announcement about a soccer trial for a team to represent Indonesia at the Street Child World Cup (SCWC) in Rio de Janeiro, he enthusiastically signed up.
Successful candidates may get an opportunity to pursue a professional career with local clubs.
'I want to become a soccer player,' 16-year-old Viqi, who dropped out of junior school, told The Jakarta Post at the Pertamina soccer field on Saturday.
The venue hosted some 160 street children, who underwent a series of tests in skills and agility.
Viqi, whose only daily activity is to help his mother sell food, said running was the hardest test to follow. 'It's tiring,' he said. When queried about the prospect of flying to Brazil, his only reply was a shy smile.
The selection was also held at six other cities, namely Yogyakarta, Surabaya (East Java), Bandung (West Java), Medan (North Sumatra), Palembang (South Sumatra) and Makassar (South Sulawesi).
'We have a list of some 400 children in the selection. They must be between 13 and 16 years of age and, at the moment, not studying in formal schools,' said Mahir Bayasut, chairman of the organizing committee Yayasan Transmuda Energy Nusantara (TEN).
The organizer is looking to initially pick 30 children before cutting the number down to a final 20 comprising 10 boys and 10 girls to fill the Indonesian team, called Garuda Baru.
'We call them Garuda Baru [new Garuda] because we want them to become 'new' people upon their return from the trip by not returning to the street,' Mahir said.
The Garuda Baru program is held in cooperation with the Brazilian Soccer School, Pertamina Soccer School, Jakarta Football Academy and NGOs.
Alles Saragi, from Yayasan Sahabat Anak, an NGO assigned to verify the participants, applauded the program, and hoped that it would inspire further efforts to empower marginalized children.
'We are currently dealing with between 700 and 800 street children in Jakarta. We have set up outreach centers in seven locations to provide them with education,' he said, and added that the foundation employed some 150 volunteers.
The foundation is cooperating with 20 other NGOs in netting the candidates for the SCWC selection.
'We will try to get them off the streets and back to school,' he said.
First held during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the Street Child World Cup is a global movement that promotes the need to provide street children with the protection and opportunities that they are entitled to.
A number of sport personalities have shown their support for the movement.
'I know from personal experience just what power football can have to inspire and change young people's lives whatever their background or nationality. This is what the Street Child World Cup is all about and I give it my full support,' David Beckham, former England captain, was quoted as saying on the movement's website streetchildrenworldcup.org.
The Indonesian team will be groomed in Jakarta a month before departing to Brazil on March 25. The event will run from March 27 to April 7, two months before the kickoff of the 2014 World Cup.
Teams from 19 countries will be divided into four groups. The game is played on a field half the normal size with each side made up of seven players.
Your premium period will expire in 0 day(s)close x