Contributed by: Aaron Richard
Indonesia may next year become the fourth Asian nation to appear at the International Cup, with hopes that the vibrant league composed entirely of local Indonesians in the Jakarta area could provide the necessary recruits to send a team downunder.
Dan Delaney from the AFL Indonesia says development of Australian rules in Indonesia has focussed on lower socio-economic areas, and the organisation would therefore have to find the funding to pay for all the squad's costs.
This would make the project a costly affair, but with a number of funding avenues being examined, the support of expat-based footy clubs such as the Jakarta Bintangs and some assistance from Indonesian international students in Melbourne through the Indo Footy Stars, Delaney believes the project is both achievable and also worthwhile from sporting and social development perspectives.
"Bringing an Indonesian team to the 2011 International cup will be a costly affair. A lot of the football development in Jakarta has been focused on lower social economic areas and for that reason AFL Indonesia would have to provide all the players' costs. We are currently looking into corporate sponsorships both in Australia and Indonesia as well as the possibility of an AFL club sponsoring the team and development program."
"Currently the AFL Indonesia development program is being sponsored by the Australian Indonesian Institute (AII), which is an Australian Government initiative. The AusAid program Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development (AYAD) provides AFL Indonesia with a full time expat Australian to work with the Indonesian development team. Any additional funding comes from the Jakarta Bintangs Football Club."
Delaney explains that there are 6 teams in the Jakarta Australian Football League, based across greater Jakarta. "All players are Indonesian, with teams in Depok, Bogor, Setia Budi, Pasar Minggu, Klender and Cileungsi. Each team has around 20 players and trains weekly at one of the 2 training sessions held on Thursday evenings in central Jakarta and Saturday afternoons in the town of Bogor, situated an hour and a half south of Jakarta."
"Taking a team of Indonesian guys to Australia would be really great for footy up here. These guys will come back and help inspire some of the younger kids to get involved and the sport will really grow from there."
"Ultimately we would like some of these guys getting more involved with coaching and helping out with the development program. The Cileungsi team is made up entirely of kids from the Mama Sayang orphanage. It would be great to give these kids the opportunity to not only travel to Australia but also come back and work with AFL Indonesia’s development team."
"Now we have the six teams playing on a regular basis we can start thinking about creating a development squad. Later in the year we will group together 30 of the most talented players in the league and start training them separately and at a higher level than the current training sessions."
"The average age of the players in the league is 17-18, so by the time we take a team to the International Cup next year these guys will be around 18- 20. There are a few older guys in their mid to late 20s, who work for AFL Indonesia and would be the senior members of the team."
"With many new players to the sport, the skill level in the league is currently quite broad. A number of the more experienced players have recently been training with the Jakarta Bintangs expat team and have played a number of international games. These more experienced and talented guys will be the basis of the Indonesian National team and are expected to help build the skill levels of some of the newer kids."
"The main focus of the AFL Indonesia development team has been in Jakarta and the surrounding cities and towns such as Bogor and Cileungsi. The team has conducted football clinics at schools in Balikpapan in Kalimantan and there are also hopes to become more involved in Bali and possibly Indonesian West Papua," Delaney says.
A major development project of recent years has been the Jakarta Bulldogs, a team of international high school students, who won back to back premierships in the Under 18 division of the Asian Championships. However, it looks like the Bulldogs' reign is coming to an end. Delaney explains that most of their players are now finishing their high-school studies in Jakarta, and are heading off to universities around the world, although hopefully many will contribute to footy elsewhere.
"They were a very multicultural team so maybe we’ll see a couple of the Bulldogs representing their native countries next year at the IC. There is a new young group of Bulldogs aged between 10 and 12 that are training weekly at Jakarta’s British international School. We’ll have to keep an eye on some of the rising stars coming out of this group," Delaney says.
A further option being looked at is working in with Indonesian international students who come to Melbourne for tertiary studies. The Indo Footy Stars, who recruited the Indonesian side for the Harmony Cup from both international students and the Indonesian migrant community in Melbourne, have been in touch with AFL Indonesia about helping make the IC dream a reality.
Delaney says "We would have to discuss this further with the Indo Footy Stars, however due to the large cost of bringing an entire team out from Indonesia it could be a more viable option to get a mixed team together from the international students in Melbourne and our very best 12 players from the league in Jakarta. It will all come down to sponsorship."
Anyone wanting to get involved with the Indonesian IC11 campaign, or to find out more about footy in Indonesia, can visit the Jakarta Bintangs website.
World Footy News