Robert Baldwin had a dream. Not the usual one about the famous Indonesian actress turning up in his shower, the other one about building a park for the youth of Indonesia to have the chance to play football ‘the Australian way’. In 2003 this dream became reality when Baldwin Park, in the wilds of Bogor and hills of Pancawati, was officially opened. Baldy, as he is affectionately known without reference to follicle challenges, is the Sultan of Pancawati, and over the following years he organised many games at Baldwin Park, giving local kids an opportunity to understand our game, and learn just why it is that our ball never bounces the way it was supposed to…
In 2007, with support among key demographics at an all time high, it was decided that the time was right to take the game to the masses. If Baldy is the Sultan of Pancawati, Tim Hakfoort is the God Father of Cibubur. Hakfoort, himself a tough uncompromising man, would stop at nothing to see every Indonesian child singing “We are the pride of Brisbane town”. Hakfoort, not akin to actually doing things for himself, decided an employee was needed. Thus, the search was launched to find an Indonesian speaking, AFL playing, unemployed, volunteer from Australia who would work for nothing. Translate: Chris Bandy.
Chris was employed by the club under the Australian governments AYAD program, and was given the mammoth task of taking AFL from relative obscurity in Indonesia, to a point where there were enough participants to run a regular completion. In Chris’ year as the Bintangs Junior Development officer, he took the program to hundreds of schools, orphanages, charaties, and anywhere else he could draw a crowd. In this first year the program saw well over 1000 local Indonesian kids get their first taste of what football is like “Australian style”. Interest in this strange game was HUGE, and before long Indonesians outnumbered expats by more than 2 to 1 at the Bintangs Thursday night training.It had become clear that this was far bigger than anyone could have hoped, and more people were required. 3 local guru’s were employed by the Bintangs, with the sole vision to make sure the well oiled machine Chris had built would continue to run. The plan now was to take the program from just getting participation and knowledge, to actually having some structure and regular participants. Valuable funding was gained from Australia, in the form of a grant from the Australia Indonesia Institute which was used to purchase new equipment, hire busses, and ground maintenance. The momentum of the program was now almost impossible to ignore, and the chiefs at AFL headquarters were now starting to take notice. In what can only be described as a miracle, just six short months after the program had begun, AFL Indonesia was officially launched with the hugely successful ‘Allan Taylor Day’.
The Allan Taylor Day was significant for a number of reasons. Firstly because it was the launch of AFL Indonesia, but more importantly because it gave us chance to showcase to the world how in just 6 months a group of young Indonesian kids went from saying “why is the ball that shape?” to having the skill and desire to match it with some of the Bintangs best. Chris had performed a miracle to get the program to where it was, and it was clear that as Chris’ AYAD posting was coming to an end, a replacement would have to be found to ensure the program did not stall.
Dan was the Bintangs second AYAD volunteer. His instructions were simple. “Take what Chris has done, and make it better”, and this is exactly what he did. Before long Dan was running regular weekly training sessions, with at times, up to 50 kids! Dan was not just improving the kids skills, but also teaching them about the importance of warming up, the importance of eating well, the importance of rehydrating, and so-on. The kids were excited about training, but yearned for more game time and so begun the inaugural “ANZ AFL Indonesia Cup”. 8 teams from around Jakarta battled it out over a season for the glory and accolades of being the best Australian Football team in Indonesia. The season was hard fought and competitive, with the Grand Final eventually being played out between Depok and the Bogor. The contest was fierce, with Depok eventually prevailing (10.6 (66) to 4.8 (32)) and being announced the inaugural AFL Indonesia Champions!With Dan’s AYAD posting drawing to a close, the Bintangs were once again on the search for a replacement. The regular competition was now up and running, and participation was at an all time high. What was needed was to take the program to the next level and develop these kids into footballers. What was needed was Lee Van Gils.
Lee has been working hard to consolidate the knowledge of the current crop of top tier players, who should make up the nucleus of Indonesia’s first ever competing International AFL team.In addition to conducting regular training sessions with the top tier players, Lee has worked with his counterparts to begin the process of obtaining passports for Indonesia’s top prospects. When form warrants, these players then may join the Jakarta Bintangs on international tours. The year 2011 has seen 7 different Indonesian nationals touring with the Bintangs and playing key roles on match day.
A big focus of this year has been to develop a concrete three year plan to ensure that Indonesia has a team competing at the 2014 International Cup. After the disappointment of not being able to secure sponsorship to send a team in 2011, the Bintangs hierarchy thought this plan essential for future success.
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