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Jakarta Post

Jokowi wants quick, strategic development in national soccer

  • Haeril Halim

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, January 25, 2017   /  06:06 am
Jokowi wants quick, strategic development in national soccer Youth and Sports Minister Imam Nahrawi (center) speaks to journalists recently after attending a limited Cabinet meeting on sports affairs at the State Palace. (Antara/Puspa Perwitasari)

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo displayed a hands-on approach in rebuilding national soccer by holding a limited Cabinet meeting on Tuesday to set his strategy.

“Soccer is not just a sport that most Indonesians love, but it is also a reason for the nation to stay united,” Jokowi said in his opening speech of the meeting at the State Palace in Jakarta.

“Although our national team was temporarily out of international tournaments due to a [world soccer body] FIFA ban, we managed to reach the final of the AFF Cup. It encouraged soccer to rise again in the country,” he added.

Indonesia lost to Thailand in the final round of the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Cup in December.

In showing his support for the sport, Jokowi stated four main targets that need to be achieved to accelerate the development of Indonesian soccer.

First, Indonesia needs to immediately get serious in developing young talent.

“You cannot hope too high — aiming for the regional or even world level — but forget to build the young ones,” said the President, adding that he wanted to see more soccer clubs and competitions for young players.

Second, Jokowi wants a competitive national league that upholds fair play and is professionally managed to scout young talent.

“I’ve received reports from PSSI [Soccer Association of Indonesia] chief Edy [Rahmayadi], and we’re optimistic that we will have a well-organized league in the future,” he added.

Third, Indonesia needs to move forward by having wellmanaged soccer clubs.

The fourth target, said Jokowi, was to provide Indonesian soccer with decent infrastructure. The President has deployed Youth and Sports Minister Imam Nahrawi to travel around the country to promote the importance of maintaining soccer fields as public spaces.

“Don’t let those fields turn into commercial establishments. In fact, we need to construct more soccer fields,” he said, adding that he had also asked for the support of state companies in developing Indonesian soccer.

PSSI chief Edy, who is optimistic about the President’s plan, said Indonesian soccer had three challenges to overcome.

Indonesian soccer, sitting at 173rd in world rankings, lacks players.

The country also owns very few fields — with only two stadiums that meet FIFA standards: the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Senayan, Jakarta, and the Jakabaring Stadium in Palembang, South Sumatra. The third flaw is coaches. “We only have 167 coaches nationwide, while Malaysia has 565. The President has set a plan to deal with this matter,” said Edy.

Referring to two upcoming multisport events, Edy said Indonesia aimed to win gold at Malaysia’s Southeast Asian Games and in the semifinal round of the 2018 Asian Games.

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