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Local junior footy rebuilding in Jakarta

  • Friday, May 23 2008 @ 03:17 pm ACST
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The Jakarta Bintangs formed in 1995 and have since become a powerhouse of Asian footy. With a sizable expatriate Australian community, the Bintangs have been regular tourers around the Asia-Pacific region, winning the Asian Championships twice.

Junior football in and around Jakarta has had a few ups and downs over the years, with a league based around local Javans being held in the Pancawati area. This league - the West Java AFL - has since disappeared, a victim of the transient nature of the Australians and Kiwis who make up the majority of the Bintangs' membership base.

However it seems local footy is back in the area in a big way - a new development program kicked off around 3 months ago thanks to a grant from the Australia-Indonesia Institute and the placement of AYAD volunteer development officer Chris Bandy.

Around 4000 Indonesian school kids and quite a few expat kids have since taken part in clinics. Bandy is optimistic of seeing a local-run organisation off the ground in the near future, with a Jakarta school-based league of around 10 teams in regular competition, as well as resurrecting the West Java AFL. An Indonesian team at the International Cup may even be on the cards for 2012.

As Bandy tells us, "The program came about through a grant from the Australia-Indonesia Institute (AII) and with a volunteer (myself) from Australia's Youth Ambassador for Development (AYAD). The program was started so that the Jakarta Bintangs could build upon existing interest from kids and also develop a sustainable junior development program."

"We are heavily focused towards local children as this is our only way of making a sustainable program, due to the transient nature of expatriate kids. Our aim is to develop to a completely self-funded, self-motivated and solely Indonesian-driven program within 5 years."

Although around 90% of the kids involved are locals, the Jakarta Bintangs also have a feeder club of sorts in the Jakarta Bulldogs, a team of western expat students from the British International School in Jakarta. Bandy tells us "I'm coaching the Jakarta Bulldogs and they had a game against the Papuans last month, regularly play intra-club games and have a game scheduled versus the Bintangs next month.

"I'm in the process of developing an all-Indonesian team from southern Jakarta to play against them at a later date this year. It'll be the first all-Javanese team to play football against westerners in a full-scale game in Indonesia. The Bulldogs are going well and sponsored very well by their school and ANZ.

"The AFL have said they'll help us out with Auskick packs and I'm in the process of sourcing footy boots and jumpers etc from clubs around Australia as the kids here have nothing and can't afford the gear.

"We're hoping that with continued support from the AYAD program we will have a full-time development officer, at least for next year and in that time we are hoping to have a fully functioning school-based league with around 10 teams, throughout Jakarta and also to resurrect the league in West Java.

"By the end of my contract, I want at least 3 indonesian teams (one from each area we visit) who are training at least 2 times a week and playing at least one game a month. We're aiming to have 3 tournaments this year, hold training for teachers and hoping to get Aussie Rules onto the schools' sporting curriculum."

Regarding an Indonesian side at the International Cup, Bandy tells us "I'd think that within 3-5 years, this is a distinct possiblity and a definitive aim of this program. The Indonesian players will never be big but I can see them being similar to japan, quick and skilful! They're exceptionally hard at it and a very competitive, proud people, sporting wise."