Well, hi, hello….

I don’t know how many months I was absent from this blog, probably about three months. The event that marked the beginning of the absence was the Champions League finals between Juventus and Barcelona in May. The Spanish club defeated Juventus 3-1. Can’t tell you how emotional that loss was for me. Not only because the fact that Juve was playing in the same stadium in Berlin, where which the Italian national team won the 2006 World Cup but also because my high expectation. Then, there was Alessandro Del Piero who was especially present for his former team.

And personally, I really wished Juve beat Barca because I hate media and football fans considering Lionel Messi as the best one ever in the planet. I really hated that. I hope Juve never ever buys the player despite his personal achievements. Thankfully, he never wins a prestigious trophy with the Argentine national team. I was so happy watching him crying in front of the camera after the defeats in the finals of the 2014 World Cup and the 2015 Copa America. Those have proven that football is about 11 players not just one Lionel Messi!!!

The saddest of all was not about the defeat actually. Juve was the underdog team, his squad was much cheaper than that of Barca. It was about Andrea Pirlo instead. It wasn’t about how he cried after the match but more on the fact that the rumour about him joining New York City was coming out again and this time around was stronger than before. This rumour made me anxious for some weeks. I frequently checked Twitter to find about the rumours. Initially, I did not seriously digest the news as media usually blows things up, some even without any confirmations at all.

In regards with Pirlo, things were at first just rumours. No confirmations from either the player, the would-be club he was going to join in, or from Juventus. I felt calm for several weeks despite the facts that Pirlo was indeed in New York to watch a baseball game. The few weeks passed there came a series of gloomy news shuttering the hearts of so many Juventini.

The first one was the departure of Carlitos Tevez, the successor of the magical number 10 jersey belonging to former Juventus captain, Alessandro Del Piero. Tevez made up his mind of returning to his former club, Boca Juniors. His reason was very personal; he wanted to get close to his family in Argentina. While my heart was already breaking because of that I completely understood his decision. Family is the thing that should be in your heart after all. Anyway, I’d like to extend gratitude for Tevez after just two amazing seasons. He was such a hard worker while with Juve. He scored goals almost each time he was on the field. His dedication, professionalism, and his work ethic were unquestionably. I wish him best of luck with Boca.

The first shake was done then the second one, the much-stressful one eventually emerged: Andrea Pirlo heads to New York!!!! That was the second most devastating news after Ale left Juventus back in 2012. That was even more saddening than the departure of Antonio Conte in 2014. My heart was completely broken for Pirlo was my third most favorite football player of all time after Ale and Gianluigi Buffon.

I am speechless to describe how loss that I have to encounter due to Pirlo’s departure. Ale is for me the best in terms of professionalism, loyalty, work ethic.. Gigi is best for his leadership, consistency as a champion.. while Pirlo is applauded for his brain, his distinctive freekicks, his game plan. He is such an artist… He is a very rare player in today’s football industry.

I miss his way of plotting balls, planning which ball he is going to pass, right or left.. I will definitely miss the way he takes dead balls in the black-and-white jersey. Even until the time I am writing this piece of story, I miss him playing for Juventus a lot. It has been the second week of the 2015/2016 season, Juve had lost two matches that makes me missing him even more.

Somehow… my love to Juve is above all else. Gradually, I am moving on from Pirlo though not yet 100%. Juve’s start of the campaign is poor so I must put more focus on that.

So that’s about Pirlo. Other news that kept me out from blogging was the reunion with all my senior high school friends after about 13 years of being apart. This happened so unpredictable. Usually, I only met those who were close to I when we were at the school. Three people were the highest amount. But now… we just held our much-awaited reunion at the school after the Eid Al-Fitr last July. I was one of the organizing event members. The past four months were so crowded. My closed, introverted life suddenly has become so loud with the high number of chats via WhatsApp group. I talk a lot, too, which sometimes makes me feel so bitchy.

So, it’s the friends that have taken out so much energy in the past few months. On one side, I think I deserve to have done that because it was so nice to get in touch with those who played a good part of my life. Each time I feel that we can still share good laughs and stories like we did when we were teenagers despite the 13 years of cutting off, I feel so amazed. I am happy to have them back in my life again.

We chat a lot, every day, about silly things most of which are about food. Sometimes, we talk about serious topics, sometimes gossiping around, calling things that occur in the past. I, and my friends residing around the capital, have held two rendezvous. It’s so awesome that I can still feel normal, not awkward, with them all, especially with those living around Jakarta, after so many years.

Oh.. In between those stories, my boss gave me additional jobs twice that forced me to work overtime. That was another factor leading to my hiatus for this blog. But now, I try to get back at my ‘world’. This blog is where my heart will forever belong to. And also JUVENTUS. I will attempt so hard to write things that have filled up my mind. I have to take them out before I go crazy.

Of course, it’s impossible to write all the things that happened in this piece. I sum them all only. But now… I come back. I read ‘Agnes Grey’ and I subscribe Orange TV to watch Juventus. Man, life is good! So happy to get back at this road!!! *drum rolling*

 

Much Ado About PSSI

I have written quite a lot of things about Juventus, Alessandro Del Piero and Italian national team but none about Indonesian football has been in the blog. And truth to be told, I am ashamed with myself. Despite the poor performance of the local football, I should have stood by them. I hope this small post can show how much I want the national football team to soar and record more achievements as what we have done in the past.

In the past three years, Indonesia has been, I may call it, as a football fan powerhouse. The huge number of football fans here has drawn some big football clubs from Europe to drop by in the country to greet their loyalists, including I.

In 2013, Arsenal, Liverpool, and Chelsea FC have visited the country within three weeks. I watch Arsenal and Chelsea here in the Gelora Bung Karno main stadium for the first time. Although I am the clubs’ fan, watching the world class players playing in front of my very eyes is truly a pricey entertainment. I really love seeing the clubs’ fans, or I call them as my fellow football addicts, celebrating their days.

A year on, it’s time for all Juventini, including I of course, have our own kind of Juventus national day. I lost for words to describe how grateful I am for the very rare experience in my life. I bet thousands of Juventini in the country feel the same way. For your information, Juventini in the country ranks second after the club’s native, Italy, in terms of the number of fans or specifically called as Juventini.

During the period, too, there has been several pay TV that puts European football leagues as their top selling product. The most-sought is definitely the Premier League given its attractive competition, some say so. Some of the pay TV are Nextmedia, OrangeTV and TransVision.

Not only that. Some of the local’s brands have been the major sponsors of the European clubs. For instance, the national flag carrier, PT Garuda Indonesia Tbk, for Liverpool FC. Then, PT Bank Danamon Indonesia, Tbk , which has been in commercial affiliations with the Manchester United. The latest one is gadget firm Advan that has teamed up with Barcelona to grab the club’s fans to become its buyers.

Unfortunately, despite the growing enthusiam for foreign clubs, the country’s football achievement has been dragging down. One of the reasons is the mismanagement of its football association or Persatuan Sepakbola Indonesia/PSSI.

Last week, the Minister of Youth and Sport Affairs Imam Nahrawi shocked the country by issuing a ministry decree that suspends the PSSI. It, thereby, does not acknowledge all of the association’s activities. What makes this looks like a thunder in the middle of the sunny day is that it is published a day before the association’s extraordinary congress has concluded La Nyalla Mattalitti as the chairman of the association replacing Djohar Arifin.

The decree that suspends the association from carrying out any activities has been triggered by the association’s decision to have kept allowing Arema Cronus and Persebaya playing in the QNB League, opposing the ministry’s recommendation. Three warning letters have been sent yet left ignored by the association. The two clubs are prohibited by the Indonesia Professional Sport Board because of technical and legal reasons.

While the suspension has ignited disappointment from the current chairman along with newly-selected board, local supporters couldn’t be happier. They say this decision has been much-awaited. They expect the ministry’s planned transition team will bring a new era for the PSSI. They want old regime, which is allegedly connected with a political party and has failed to lift up the achievement of the national team, be scrapped.

The supporters say they want the ministry to completely clean up the association from people who take advantages (money) from the association for the sake of their own. Despite the fact the decree does not resolve the most basic problems, even makes the already existing problems much more complicated, they say the ministry decision is still preferable. At least, they say, this will take the alleged irresponsible persons out of the association.

And I, as one of the supporters, have the same saying. It’s nothing wrong at all to have it all started again with brand new people in charge than leave the matter to the wrong people. While in the past I choose to stay silent and keep my eyes out of the matter this time around I choose to make a stance. And that is by keeping my eyes close at the development of the matter. I’d love to see the national team to win again, being a king in the Southeast Asia as we once were. I think my hopes are not impossible…

Wanted: a nice public reading spot in the capital

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Where else can I read in front of these pretty yellow flowers?

As Alessandro Del Piero no longer trains at the Macquarie University sports complex, the only place in Sydney that tops my list if I revisit the city is the Royal Botanic Garden. Not only the city park is such a paradise for a nature lover like me, but also it becomes the place where I eventually have a chance to read a book while laying on clean grass. For a bookworm living in a very hectic crowded city like Jakarta, what I have experienced in the garden is truly an enjoyment.

 

I go to the park three times during the six-days staying in the heart of Sydney. I firstly come to the Hyde Park but I prefer the Royal because it is across the sea, has very large green fields, more various flowers, and best of all it is a little bit secluded. On the other hand, the Hyde is right in the center of the city where you can view city buses encircle the place hence it’s a bit noisy to spend hours reading in it.

Some of you readers who can enjoy pure blue sky all around the places you currently live will say what I have felt there is a bit too much. But if you have visited Jakarta you will fully understand that my statements are understandable.

According to the Gardening and Cemetery Agency of the Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia has 1,178 gardens which for me, becomes rather useless because most of them serve as mere ornament, green refreshment for passers-by. Some famous parks, such as Taman Menteng and Taman Suropati, stands out among the huge number as they are commonly used as public space where people gather, do exercises or simply hang around during spare time.

But given rowdy atmosphere in those parks, I believe bookworms will find it difficult to concentrate reading. In short words, they are not convenient enough as reading spots. Despite the chattering situation in the parks I have a salute both for public and local administration who have made use of the parks as public area for I am really disappointed with the ‘ineffectual’ existence of the Taman Semanggi or Semanggi park.

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The fantastic view of Taman Semanggi from above. Thank you for http://www.ahok.org for this picture.

As you see from the below picture, the garden is really beautiful, very spacious and definitely, trees are all around it. The design is completely adorable where the park is divided into several parts that surrounds the city’s historical bridge, Jembatan Semanggi. It’s too bad, completely useless for the park is a mere garnish because barely no people visit the place for interaction. Usually, policemen or gardening staff who are seen in the park either for doing their jobs or taking some breaks.

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Inside the garden. credit for http://www.voraale.com for the picture.

Aside from the fact that the park is in the centre of the busy Jakarta where it is normally treated as an eyeshot from the rear-view mirrors of vehicles, Indonesians don’t get used to use the parks, including the Semanggi park, as a reading spot because most Indonesians don’t read.

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The picture is from http://www.nationalgeographic.co.id.

Even during Car Free Day, the garden remains empty. People, who run or bike around the place, keep their feet out of it. They only jog or walk around it. Sometimes, I really want to grab a book, a mattress then go to the park. I’d love to do what I have done in the Royal in the Semanggi park; reading while laying on the grass. I would be so happy if I could do that despite not being able to breathe fresh air in the park. But I believe people would stare at me while thinking I am a weird person should I execute the idea because, again, the very low reading habit in Indonesia and the location of the garden in the capital.

Although I still enjoy reading in my room, inside the bus or bus shelter, sometimes I want to do my hobby in an open area just like in Sydney but it’s almost impossible to have that kind of experience in Jakarta. If not because of noisy, pollution, the idea of reading in a garden already sounds silly.

The number of the public park mentioned in the article is taken from this link: http://megapolitan.kompas.com/read/2013/09/02/0820322/Berharap.Wajah.Jakarta.Lebih.Hijau

Fifteen Self-Questions, Defining Moments As A Juventini

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Having been a football fan for about 17 years with Juventus FC as the years-long beloved football club, these rhetorical questions, moments underscore what life means for a football enthusiast, Juventini in particular :

1. This question have popped up in my mind, a lot of time: did my mother wish me as an athlete when I was inside her womb?

2. My father has introduced me to football but neither he nor my male relatives play the game yet I like playing football, sometimes. Am the weirdest one in the family?

3. When most of my girl friends adore Francesco Totti but I still have the heart for Alessandro Del Piero, is there something wrong with my choice?

4. When my friend says the reason I leave her house is for watching a football game held nearby the village where we live but I deny her statement, I then ask for myself: why should I lie to her?

5. I feel so alive whenever I and my schoolmates, most of whom are men, gather in the schoolroom, talking about the matches before Monday morning ceremony begins at SMUN 1 Karanganyar. I feel superior, too, because Juve is dominant during the late 1990s and early 2000s.

6. When I and my friends ride our cycles to the city just to buy magazines, posters that sell Juventus pictures. Priceless!

7. One of the most memorable moments that later embarrasses me each time I look back at is when I cry after Italy loses to South Korea in the 2002 World Cup. I keep cursing the referee who I strongly believe has helped the host in the game.

8. After more than 10 years of not meeting each other, my former classmates says she remembers me most because of my distress when Juventus loses to Lazio in the 1999-2000 Serie A title competition in the last game marked with flooded pitch. Should I be proud or embarrassed with myself because of that?

9. The first time I officially ‘show up’ as a Juventini is when I join in the mass watching held by the Juventus Club Indonesia to watch the last ever performance by Ale for Juve in the 2011/2012 Italian Cup final. My feelings are completely mixed up. Initially, I am frightened because I go there by myself in the dead of the night. Then, I feel so weird when some male Juventini stare at me probably they think I am lost or something like that. But once the game is on, I get so excited to have watched him playing although Juve is defeated. I go home feeling somehow joyful.

10. You can say my weirdness, bravery comes to its climax when I go crazy on my own during the 3-days Juve Tour last August. I go to the airport by myself. In the sea of Juventini, most of whom are men, I don’t give any damn at all. I visit their closed training sessions with blooming heart and again, I don’t care with what other Juventini say about me going there solo.

11. The most insane moment of all is when I am inside the Gelora Bung Karno stadium complex, singing ‘Storia Di Un Grande Amore’ so loud till the male Juventini standing beside me look annoyed, shouting the name of ‘Fernando Llorente’ each time he scores, jumping then having some narcissistic pictures taken. What a party! A much-anticipated one!

12. I can still feel goosebumps in my hand each time I pass the Gelora Bung Karno stadium complex because of the Juve tour.

13. Thanks to internet, I have some good Juventini fellows with whom we exchange a lot of information, thoughts, curses, etc, although, yes, via virtual world.

14. I can be so lunatic only by reading through Twitter timeline filled with the outrage of some Juventini when the club plays poorly or is beaten during a live game.

15. My much-awaited time are at 02:45 a.m each Wednesday/Thursday or 01:45/02:45 a/m every Sunday/Monday morning or 9 p.m each Sunday Jakarta time.

I’ll update the list after I get new defining moments. For the time being, I’ll leave you with those.

Pieces of My Happiness

Alhamdulillahirobbil’alamin… almost all of my teenage dreams have all come true. Below are the tears of the tickets, the entrances of my long dreams, from sport to music. Can’t feel enough to say thank you to Alloh swt for granting my wishes in very remarkable, surprising, perfect ways and moments.

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I’ve kept those dream tickets in the past seven years or so. I have another ticket yet I may have thrown them away or I have forgotten where I put them.

IMG_1328BEST OF THE BEST OF THE BEST OF THE BEST OF ALL. 6 AUGUST 2014 AT THE GELORA BUNG KARNO MAIN STADIUM. JUVENTUS FC VS ISL ALL STARS!!! (THE 17-YEAR LONG WAIT IS OVER!!!)

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SECOND BEST. ALESSANDRO DEL PIERO. 30 NOVEMBER 2013. LIVE IN SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

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THIRD BEST. WATCHING WESTLIFE’S “GRAVITY” CONCERT. 5 OCTOBER 2011.

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BADMINTON.BADMINTON.BADMINTON! UBER CUP, THOMAS CUP, DJARUM INDONESIA OPEN SUPER SERIES. SEA GAMES 2011. A PROOF THAT I’M SUCH A BADMINTON LOVER!

I am a very fortunate person, indeed! Wait for another dream coming true, ameennn…

Small Tokens from Some Parts of the World

IMG_1320From Singapore to Canada… Between Austria and Germany… Not to forget Australia and China. These small goodies are from my best friends, a few of them are bought during my own trips. I don’t upload the pictures of another gift as requested by some of the givers. Some, well, I forget where I put them. LOL.. Thank you so much my pals. And alhamdulillahirobbil’alamin.. Grateful as always…

Meeting You Only Makes Me Wanting You Even More

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I saw a bright ray was especially shining under him as I caught him showing up in the balcony of the Sydney FC’s training camp amid the cloudy Friday morning on November 29th, 2013. I was left astonished, my eyes kept savoring the super fast moment, even my heart stopped rattling to have eventually met the one and only Alessandro Del Piero. I wasn’t prepared to have firstly seen him in that very accidental kind of way, in that very unanticipated moment yet I was able to have captured, felt the most precious moment that lasted only for a few seconds. Sometimes in your life there were experiences that came up so suddenly, lasted so quickly but it took all your breathe away. Such sayings are way too much but all in all, the first experience of meeting Alessandro was just like that; unpredictably, surprisingly, greatly, incredibly, unforgettably. I was like; “Hah! Was that Alessandro Del Piero?!”

He walked very fast when I and his another fan were following him going to a training field where he and his teammates were doing light trainings. He looked at me but did not say any words. Alessandro seemed ignorant to the words said by the male fan I just met in the training ground. At first I thought Alessandro was cold and unfriendly.

Such thoughts quickly ran away from my mind once I realized his teammates had been training for quite some minutes before his arrival. May be Alessandro was detained by some affairs that caused him to come a bit late in the training field.

One by one, me and the male fan were joined with dozens of his lovers; boys, adults, girls, old men. We came around to see him only. And Alessandro remained focused on his exercises. He looked serious listening to his coach instructions. Sometimes, he did his own training method. Once in a while, he laughed but this rarely happened. Again, the thought that he was a bit arrogant came up as he wasn’t seen to have a look at us. As many as the negative thoughts came up I immediately washed them away. I instead enjoyed the very speechless minutes by gazing at his movements, smiling all the way, saying gratitudes in my heart, reinstating myself that this was not a dream. Too many dreams have come into realizations and I lost for words to describe them all at the moment and until now. I didn’t capture many pictures or recorded the moment in a camera. I simply deeply felt it, memorized it in my eyes, heart, head and mind. I placed the very much-anticipated moment to the deepest part of my soul. Let it be savely put in my memory forever and ever.

As the training session was over he quietly walked towards us. He did not greet us but he approached us. I didn’t dare to ask for pictures or get my jersey signed. I was too afraid. It was until one of the awaiting fans asked for a photograph that I encouraged myself to ask for the help from an oldman bringing an umbrella to take a picture with me and Alessandro. How surprising to have known that Alessandro knew I was giving my camera and was waiting for the moment to get the picture taken, for suddenly, he stopped having his pictures taken with another fan, took a few steps to where I was standing, directing his face to my camera without me having to ask… then ‘click’.. a picture that rewarded my whole 13-year old wait, patience, tiredness, anxiety, money, and all… I was overjoyed that although he seemed ignorant but in fact he did know my presence and gave what I wanted without me having to beg him to do so. For me, he is the kind of boyfriend who proves his attention with actions not words.

The only words that came out from my mouth were ‘thank you’ but he did not reply. Never mind, though. I wanted to dance all around after that but I managed to have kept my manner properly. Alessandro then was busy signing jerseys, books, while I took his pictures. I kept saying ‘thank yous’ all the time that he eventually replied them with ‘you’re welcome’. He even winked at me. How sweet!

The picture was enough. I did not dare to get my jersey signed. But looking at the other fans’ who got not only once but two of Alessandro’s signs, I braved myself to give my pen and asked for him to sign the jersey I was wearing at that time. He declined the pen and I was a bit offended. But that was for fun. I thought he knew the pen might not work well on the jersey as I bet he had signed too many jerseys prior to this moment. Done and done! The picture, the reply, the winked eyes and the signed jersey. These were abundant! This experience teaches me that when it’s meant to be then it’s meant to be; when the moment belongs to me then I’ll have it no matter how long I must wait, no matter how difficult the path that should be taken.

He did not smile a lot but he made sure each fan got what they wanted. After he finished with our moment, the fans moment, he asked who owned the pen. LOL. The funny moment that somehow showed how closed we were with the world champion. The brief part that told me how ordinary he could be. As the owner of the pen got his item, Alessandro left us. I repeatedly warned myself not to mourn over the sweetest ending of my long trip, not to be ungrateful, not to ask for more because I was given more than I had expected, not to get mellow as we parted since I may meet him again some other time.

A year has passed. All the memory remains refresh in my mind. He is now in India. I’d really love to meet him again and again. When the time is for us to meet again, I’ll bring my future everlasting pal. I hope he is so fond of him, too. And I wish I’ll have another picture taken with Alessandro again, this time around Ale will be in the middle of me and my beloved friend, amiiin…

*How relieved, again, to have completed this post for the memory about the meeting with Alessandro Del Piero was weighing my whole week, this whole day when today was exactly the day I met him. Alhamdulillahirobbil’alamin.. thank you Alloh swt…*

Taking the Overwhelming Sydney First Anniversary Trip Out of My Mind

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A grizzly, clear sky greeted me from low-cost AirAsia X airplane window a few minutes before it touched the ground of the Kingsford International Airport, Sydney, Australia. I was so much relieved as I have eventually reached the destination after being about 10 hours in two different planes. I felt so nervous too for I was clueless on which path I should have chosen after leaving the airport:Left? Right? Go straight?

I have magically managed smiling to some officers at the airport although I felt tired, thirsty and confused. When I was out from the airport and saw the blue sky of Sydney for the very first time, I was like ‘Oh Alloh swt.. Thank you for making me still alive… So, is this Sydney?”

Prior to this arrival, I was told by a hostel staffer on how to reach the hostel where which I would stay during the short trip for free of charge. But when I was at the airport I took wrong ways. I wasted, like, 30 minutes before a van driver took me and other visitors reaching our respective places to stay.

The hostel was quite below my expectations. I had to call its receptionist to confim my staying and pay the fee for he was out of the hostel by the time I arrived. Thankfully, a friendly female Westerner who also stayed in the hostel informed me all about this. She was so helpful. She told me to wait for the receptionist in a backyard. It had been a long time I had yet to reconnect with Westerners so I found myself a bit afraid at first. Once I came into the backyard which was half full of Westerners they looked at me so awkwardly. Yeah, I understood that. May be they were thinking I was a weirdo with my headscarf and Asian look.

Fortunately, I got used to this quickly and I did not care all about that. I paid as much as them so why should I be afraid? As this calm state of mind persisted, I met several new female friends from Germany who turned out to be so kind. The hostel staffers, somehow, were rude.

It took around two days for me to wholly and completely enjoy the city, to free myself from all nervousness, anxiety, afraidness and such. I needed two days to readjust myself that I was now in a strange land, very far from home, had no friends at all in the city. After dealing with harsh hostel staffers, my problem was about eating. I had prepared myself to get used of eating burgers and cakes but after two days, I gave up. I remembered so well I felt so hungry after surrounding and taking pictures at the Sydney Opera House and all I wanted was rice, rice and rice.

A bus trip from the city centre to Kingsford was like a homecoming journey. It was so surprising that food was the first thing that reminded me much about home. I was only two days in the city but I missed home, my parents very much. Four days onwards, I came to Kingsford every afternoon, eating rice and noodles, speaking with Bahasa Indonesia with the stores’ owners and staffers. Call me too much but this experience almost caused me to cry. Each time I came to the city area, I felt like I was at home.

Meeting with Alessandro Del Piero, watching him doing light trainings and playing in the pitch after countless times of only seeing Ale via television screens was indeed the climax of the tiresome, unforgettable trip. Another most memorable, greatest moment was getting lost in the city centre because I was carried away too much amidst its old, elegant, historical buildings. For a vintage lover like me, admiring this kind of thing could take up hours and hours till I forgot that my legs got hurt and I was so damn hungry.

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The next thing was garden wanderings with my most favorite one was the Royal Botanic Garden. I was freely lying on the clean grass while reading Alessandro Del Piero’s book namely ‘Playing On’ in the park. The sky was turning red while the air was fresh, slightly breeze. There were ponds, beautiful flowers all around the large garden; old, new trees were scattered as far as my eyes could see. Empty benches were abundant, too. I was indeed in a paradise.

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The Sydney Opera House experience was a bit mind-blowing. I was taking a moment to feel the beauty that was lying in front of my very eyes while I was sitting, stretching my legs on the clean floor out of the iconic building. The windy air stroke my face while I was seeing a gigantic bridge right across the opera house, blue sky, high buildings, clear waters separating the city centre with its surroundings, big cruises taking guests circling the famous spot, various tourists activities enjoying their holidays and so forth. Under the very bright ray of the sun, we were having fun. Again, I said to myself: ‘Oh God, can’t believe I have made it this far. Can’t believe I was finally here.’

The call from the stomach woke me up from this priceless moment. I had tortured my stomach a lot by walking so far now that was the time to feed it, now with the rice, no longer cakes, burgers or even tasteless eggs.

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Experiencing public transport was very worthwhile, too. Precise, fast, reliable. I lacked of positive adjectives to describe it. Not to forget was having social interactions with Sydneysiders and foreigners I happened to encounter during the journey. This made me love the city even more as a holiday destination.

Time to return to Jakarta, though. I really like Sydney and never find it enough to be grateful for the experience. Somehow, I missed home so much. I missed my family, too. Farewell Sydney! Till we meet again. This time around I hope I’ll bring someone along with me, amiiin.

*How relieved I am to have written this post. I was quite overwhelmed with this so-called one year anniversary of the Sydney trip this week that forced me to put them down into words. A year has passed since I launched the journey and it feels like yesterday I came to the city on November 26th, 2013. Forever thankful*

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The Coach with a Cigar

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picture source: www.goal.com

 

Marcello Romeo Lippi looks calm, smoking a cigar while keeping his eyes on a match. He remains inhaling the cigar amidst dozens of cameras shed some light on him as the match is over. He’s not the kind of coach, like Antonio Conte, who shouts on the edge of the field to give instructions or motivate his players throughout the game.

He won’t push his coach rival, as the one happens to Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho, should he get angry with referees’ decisions deemed unfair for his side. And he’s not the type of trainer, like Mourinho, who sometimes loves to ignite war of words prior to important matches probably for the sake of media sensation or for downgrading opponents’ mentality. Surely, sometimes he may get involved in arguments with referees but he rarely makes impolite or harsh comments let alone leaves his players in response to the unjust decisions.

His relaxed countenance, observant traits are attached for the coach whose playing career is way below his glittering coaching one. A well-respected man, a cold-headed coach, a bit controversial guy, a creative and very smart person, there is so much to say and learn from Lippi.

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picture source: www.chinadaily.com.cn

I have a kind of mixed feeling the first time I know about Juventus and him back in 1997. I am amazed with his 4-3-1-2 formula that is able to bring the Old Lady as the queen in Italy. In the 1990s, he, too, brings the club to be best in Europe.

Back then, Juventus has very solid and strong team. You can recall the names of best defenders at that time; Ciro Ferrara, Paolo Montero, Alessandro Birindelli, and Gianluca Pessoto, to name a few. In the middle part, current Italy’s coach Antonio Conte becomes the team’s captain along with Alessio Tacchinardi, Angelo Di Livio, Didier Deschamps, Edgar Davids and the playmaker Zinedine Zidane. In the front line, you should never forget the sharp duet Alessandro Del Piero-Filippo Inzaghi.

You may call my love to Juve and Lippi is always meant to be probably before Alloh Swt sends me to this beautiful world. When I first watch this club, this is the squad that completely steals my heart away, it blows my mind away, and nothing can beat them. They remain in my heart until now. I can always recall they way the play. With the four walls in the back; creative and persistent midfielders and super quick, compact duo in the forefront.

That is the best of Juventus. That remains Juve’s most memorable that leaves such deep impressions in my heart. And that comes to life thanks to the magical touch of a wonderful, smart and creative coach namely Marcello Lippi.

lippi3

picture source: http://www.zimbio.com

Watching, learning and absorbing his playing method enrich me already despite the fact I am such a newbie football fan at that time. The first and foremost lesson I put in my brain ever since my first experiences watching the team is that how Lippi really shows me that football is all about team unity. Set aside price tags, star status that commonly attach to certain players. When footballers play for the black-and-white jersey under the helm of Marcello Lippi, they have to fuse into the one Old Lady.

As such, Juventus dominates Italy despite the fact that the players are average, in terms of the price. Under the hands of Lippi, however, they emerge from no body to somebody. Zidane, who later turns out to be one of the world’s most expensive players, and Ale, the popular name of Alessandro, are the two names football fans mostly fond of. The latter remains a huge magnet for football fans regardless their favorite teams. For this, I quickly associate Lippi with the word ‘brilliant.’

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picture source: defendingwiththeball.wordpress.com

I used to misunderstand him. Initially, I hate him for opting Ale instead of Filippo or Pippo as his first choice in the front line. I have clear argument on why I choose Pippo as he scores more goals than Ale. But as the 1997/1998 Serie A progresses, I gradually learn Lippi’s reason: Ale is much more creative and tenacious player. He can go down to aid his fellow defenders, he is helpful in the middle field and definitely, he is hungry to score goals. That’s from my point of view. From Lippi’s perspective, he depends on Ale may be because Ale is ‘always ready on call’.

I hardly say Juve’s Lippi as a boring team strongly links with Italy’s defensive system. It has balanced squad from the back to the front row. Juve is just the team as attractive as those from other European countries. When I say he is cold-headed I mean it though I, again, get information somewhere in the media. But enough to say, to establish a united team with a very strong vision, Lippi has to be very bold. I can’t explicitly look at his ‘cruelty’ in the camera but I firmly believe he is open to his players, if not in the field then may be in the changing room or during training sessions. And that is inevitable for shaping a winning team. In another word, that is a must.

Giving his coaching skill at Juve, I surprisingly don’t hate him at all when he takes a controversial decision to leave Juve for Inter Milan, the Old Lady’s eternal rival both on and off the pitch. I put high respect on him despite the decision because Lippi is the first coach who shows me how to choose an idol based on his achievements. He teaches me on how to put my feet on other people shoes. So, when he briefly leads Inter in 1999-2000, I regard that he yearns for new challenges. And I think that is so normal. Looking at this event, I don’t hate Conte for leaving Juve to coach the Azzuri national team as I try to put my point of views from Conte’s; that he looks for adventures. Later on, I learn that Lippi actually leads me to be a completely objective Juventini and try not to be such a narrow-minded one.

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picture source: www.orgullobianconero.vavel.com

The peak of my admiration for Lippi comes to its climax when he leads the Azzuri team to win the 2006 World Cup. It’s so remarkable. I am speechless to utter how his and the team achievement feels like, as Ale puts in his book ‘Playing On’, “reaching the top of the mountain.” Specifically, at times of calciopoli hits the Serie A teams, Lippi’s capability is tested to the most. With so many serious problems plaguing the national team, Lippi is able to turn it out into something so great. This victory shows Lippi’s just another superb skill; psychology. What he has done to the team despite the hard times it faces along with the not-so-many expensive players is way too marvelous. The way he makes use the negativity to a strong motivation that eventually creates a world champion is outstanding. That, again, shows Lippi’s psychological skills which I have not initially thought of given his quiet appearance. Even after his downside following his total failure in the 2010 World Cup campaign I don’t despite him at all. He simply remains a human being who lives with achievements and failures. And his defaults in the 2010 World Cup campaign do not taint his accomplishments four years back then. He stays the best and will always be.

The last point is how he garners respect from fellow coaches, the most famous one is Sir Alex Ferguson. I dislike Fergie, to be totally honest. But Fergie admits he takes so many lessons from Lippi on how he builds Manchester United’s best team in 1990s. How flattering yet so startling! But still, I dislike Fergie and Manchester United.

For me, Lippi is like a book without any closing chapters. He has so much inside his brain. He’s got the nerve, the winning mentality, the smartness, the creativity and the guts to be a phenomenal coach. So when he decides retiring from the football world I feel so devastated. The fact that I don’t watch him being in the edge of the field during his last three years with the Guangzhou Evergrande adds another sadness into my already bitterness.

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picture source: www.unisport.dk

Apart from these below greatness, I will surely miss his coaching philosophy and serene behaviors. I’m so fortunate to have witnessed his skills that will serve as priceless heritage not only for the Italy but to the football industry in a large extant. For myself, I hope one day I will meet him in China or in Italy, just like I have met Ale in Sydney, Australia.

Grazie millie Mister Lippi! For everything! I’m glad you are still within the football industry as Guangzhou Evergrande as a technical director. Not only that will leave me with abundant stories to be written later on but also that shows you are always on with new challenges despite your old age. And you know what? That makes you are completely, thouroughly and wholly AWESOME!

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picture source: gool.net

Honors

Club

Juventus

Guangzhou Evergrande

International

Italy national football team

Individual

Records

Source for Lippi’s achievements: Wikipedia

 

 

Playing ON, Ale! Keep doing what you love

Alessandro

picture credit for www.totalfootballmadness.com

 

Among so many good qualities from Alessandro Del Piero both as a footballer and an individual, I am mostly impressed on his particular trait: never tired of raising his life bar.

When I have a chance of meeting him last November in Sydney, Australia, I confirm on what has been long in my head as something so damn true. I have been his huge fan for more than 13 years thanks to his diligence, hardworking type of player as seen from television. Ale steals my heart away from his former duet, Filippo Inzaghi, at that time. The way Ale plays like a lion, knowing no tiredness on the pitch amazes me much. The way he maintains his good playing rhythm until referees blow their whistles is so startling.

That he continues scoring goals until he becomes Juventus’s all time best goal scores is definitely a result of his persistence, his super hard training and his ability to always get hungry for something greater and better.

Watching him training for about two hours and playing for about 40 minutes for Sydney FC a year ago justifies my thoughts. Despite the not-so-known Sydney FC in the football industry as compared to Juventus, the relatively new Australian League reputation among football lovers, the 40-year old megastar knows very much how to make his presence matters a lot.

He knows what to do with his career after the awesome 19 years togetherness with the Old Lady. He wholly understands what his choice is going to take him. And definitely, he comprehends what he needs to do is not experiencing what he has felt but always starving for something new, something that will bring much more pride to his already world class fame.

So there he is. Training as usual. Working hard to be the best captain for the club. Listening to coach directions. He never underestimates each training session. He never jokes about his young club mates who never taste the glory of lifting the World Cup. No, he trains because he still wants to be the best even if he is no longer young for a footballer to compete in a high tension championship.

You will get surprised on how this world champion with so many titles attached to his long, wonderful CV considers himself as just a player. As someone who wants to play, play and play. He always aims for something higher and higher in his life despite the fact he almost has it all, except for the Euro Cup winner. He remains that competitive, that animal-led adrenaline who (at least at the moment) has yet to think of retiring.

What makes him even more outstanding is that he does this not for the sake of sensation but for the love of his life: football. He has had that love ever since he was a kid and he’ll always keep it sparkling for the rest of his entire life. Playing football has been his truest, deepest voice that has led him thus far. And for that constant voice, he will keep playing until the day is completely over for him.

“My body and my head speak to me. For many years I’ve tried to listen to them with attention and respect. At this stage of my career they are telling me all they want is to play. My body and my head tell me they are hungry for a challenge.” from ‘Playing On’

By reading that quotes, I fully come to a conclusion that he is a born champion even if he turns 40 last week. Always looking for new challenges regardless in new, completely out of nowhere places as they can be. After a two-year adventure with Sydney FC, Ale is now a part of the Delhi Dynamos FC in a new Indian Super League competition. Surely, he knows how to make each turn in his life is as thrilling as ever just like what he has had with the Turin giants. And you know what? As a die-hard Delperista I can’t be even prouder. Looking at his future options, reading his preferences after leaving Turin, I can strongly state that Alessandro Del Piero teaches me on how to become a champion for my own life; raising my life bar to cultivate the loves of my life: English, reading and writing.

Grazie Alessandro! For everything you have shown, inspired me to do. Among so many best wishes for you I have written in my Twitter and Facebook accounts, I, again and again, would like to shout this one out loud: KEEP PLAYING ALE! KEEP DOING WHAT YOU LOVE THE MOST!

Forever love,

 

Your very die-hard fan