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…


Fifteen Self-Questions, Defining Moments As A Juventini


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.

I’ll see you again the King!

“A true gentleman never leaves his lady”, Ale says

Sometimes the best way to wake you up from a sadness is encountering a new problem. Like it or not, you have to switch your focus on the matter because it is more important and takes more attention and energy. Such thing happened to me on 21 May 2012.

For about a week I was so devastated on the news that Ale Del Piero is leaving Juventus. I never thought that I could be that unhappy. But a great, deep hole was inside my heart that I was finding it very hard to cope with the reality. Worse, I thought I would miss his last performance with Juventus when the black-and-white squad took on Napoli on the peak match of Coppa Italy or the Italian Cup for the 2011/2012 season.

I didn’t want to miss the chance, the last priceless opportunity to watch him on the screen thus I forced myself to get my television repaired. It had been years that the television was broken and I did not have any intentions to get it fixed because I don’t like watching television given poor programs from local stations. But this Ale factor encouraged me to do that. And so I did. But when it functions well, I learned news that local station Indosiar wouldn’t broadcast the event as it did not have an official license to do that. TelkomVision, a pay TV, would instead broadcast the event, which, unfortunately, I am not one of its subscribers.

The crowd before the game

At first, I intended to start subscribing the channel but my office mate told me this might take some days. So, one thing came across in my mind: joining a gathering with Juventini and Juvedonna to watch the match in Vidi Futsal in Pancoran, South Jakarta. I followed Juventini Indonesia on Twitter and later in Facebook so I sent text messages to some people who are in charge as its spokespersons. Since they replied well, initially I had no doubts of doing that. I would do anything for Ale.

But as days went by, I was worrying about many things. First, I had to come to the place almost in the middle of the night. TelkomVision would broadcast the match at 1:45 a.m, and I had to secure a nice spot thus I had to come earlier as there would be hundreds or even thousands of Juventus supporters, who were present at the venue. What means of transportation should I take? That was another problem. I initially considered to take Transjakarta bus but I did not want to leave my boarding room too early to catch the bus. Besides, I was doubtful the bus was still operational should I have been at the bus shelter at 11 p.m. So, I took a taxi instead. This departure thing gave much thoughts in my head since I was afraid something bad would occur to me if I took a taxi. I read too much stories on rape and such thing and was worried that would happen to me. But Alhamdulilah (thanks God) I arrived safely and quickly. No traffic congestion and the taxi driver was kind and spoke so little.

all about Juve

Second, which was way more essential was that I was very afraid of emotionally getting lost since I went there on my own. Going alone for a soccer game in a sea of male spectators sounded so horrible for me. I kept on thinking that I had been out of my mind at that moment. But once I came across to such thing, I reminded myself on some motivation thoughts which say sometimes I have to do some crazy things to be happy. Thus, I set aside those negative opinions. I kept on saying to myself, “ this would be for Ale, how precious would that be?”.

the magical number 10

So, I came in and felt okay. To get myself busy I chatted with my dear friend Ovi Harum Wulan. So thankful she slept so late that night so I had reasons not to be so lost. I also brought a movie magazine to shield my attention away from hundreds of male eyes probably wondering what the hell was I doing at the place. Hahaha.

The clock was ticking and I and other supporters were moving from the sidelines of the futsal field to the center of the field. The match organizer was hanging a big screen and some pictures of Ale and other players of Juventus. I was already feeling so proud to be in the place. Finally, I joined with those who love the football club so much as I do or even more.

the football challenge

And surprisingly, the organizer and spectators were very welcome and did not bother much about my presence. I saluted the organizer, who did not allow any spectators to smoke in the field. Those who wanted to smoke must move to the sideline of the field.

For some minutes, the organizer played some videos of Ale Del Piero, on his goals, celebrations. All of my efforts was paid off. We sang, yelled, applauded the Captain even long before the game started. That was beyond my expectations. So memorable and very amazing start-up.

juve storia di un grande amore

To gain enthusiasm, the organizer drew some quizzes to win original jersey of Juventus. I was unlucky at that night. But that was okay. A lot of gifts were given to visitors. Even though most of us might not know each other well, we shared so much joy by singing the club anthem and memory song for the beloved King. What a night!

The most memorable and awesome part was that when we shouted to the Juventus players. For example, when one of the event organizer said “ Number 21.. Andrea..” We replied with his last name “Pirlo!!!”. And you can guess that the best part came when the organizer said “Alessandro” then we replied with “Del Pierooooo!!!” all together in such a very loud voice. Wish I could do that in the Juventus Stadium.

It felt so magical when I eventually saw him entering the football field of the Olimpico Stadium, Rome. We clasped our hands and called his name for the last time that morning. Unexpectedly, Juventus played below their performance that night. Napoli, on the other hand, performed impressively with a lot of attacks. And I was disappointed with the fact that Marco Storari replaced Gianluigi Buffon that morning. Play maker Pirlo could not do much as Napoli players kept watchful eyes on his movement. Ale did not dominate ball possession during the match but his contribution showed such a high class. He frequently passed the ball to other strikers or dribbled the ball on his own to attack the opponent. The dead ball specialist had some chances to score from free kicks but produced no results.

the match

Overall, I got what I wanted that morning. A satisfying performance from Ale Del Piero through minor ball possession. Simone Pepe replaced him after one hour when Juventus was one goal away from Napoli. Probably, that what made Ale looked serious and flat to have finished his last show ever with the Old Lady. This was in contrast with his emotional and grateful look when Bianconneri won against Atlanta a week before the match. The fact that Juventus lost one goal when he went outside the field then later surrendered 2-0 to Napoli forced me to move one and start thinking on how fragile Juventus could be. Meanwhile, all Juventini miraculously kept on singing and supporting Juventus even though they knew our beloved team lost. They are very supportive. I love to be part of them.

unclear picture from the match

After 42 undefeated games, the new Italian soccer league champion lost in a such shameful way. So many things need to be done. So much emotions need to be involved for next year. Competing in the Champions League will be a hardest task of all. The squad has to be well-prepared. So, that’s the new challenge that put my sadness away then turned it all to be a duty to always keep on supporting Juventus no matter what will happen.

I did not cry or felt gloomy because of Ale. Instead, I was in a high spirit to open a new chapter of my relationship with Juventus. Next season will be the test of my love because Ale will not be there. And I believe I can adapt very quickly with new faces, like Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, or Claudio Marchisio.

And that doesn’t mean I will forget Ale. I will support and watch him in any leagues he will be on in possible ways I can manage. Thank you very much for Juventini Indonesia for the incredible experience. That was the first and more exciting ones will come up. Now I know where and how should I do if I need motivations to support Juve, especially when I have to stay up till dawn. LOL. Last but not least, forza Juventus, I’ll be your faithful fan as always. And I’ll see you again King Ale! You know you will always have my best support!

the singing goes on

A is for Ale

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The Invincible Club, The Undefeated Captain Ale
It isn’t love at the first sight. Or at the first goal. The first Juventus player, or world footballer, who initially steals my heart away is not Alessandro “Ale” Del Piero but his former duet Filippo “Super Pippo” Inzaghi. Two of my best friends confess their admiration for Ale but not me. My heart still sticks with Pippo as he scores more goals than Ale does during Lega Calcio Serie A seasons in the middle of 1990s.
I was at the junior high school at that time. My interest in football came unexpectedly when my father brought me home Bola tabloid featuring Zinedine Zidane on its cover. It called Zidane as a “crazy”player for extending his contract with Juventus for some years. Juventus, the first football club that I firstly heard and drew curious thoughts in my head. Later on, I turned on local television station RCTI and watched a football game. Italian league with Juventus or Juve as the team. Once and for all. The first soccer competition and the team that have led me to be such a faithful fan until now.
Not a few weeks did I miss watching Juventus’s performance. The 1990s was a glorious era for Juve and for me. I started to recognize their faces; goalkeeper Angelo Peruzzi; defendants Paolo Monterro, Ciro Ferrara, Antonio Conte, Alessandro Birindelli, Gianluca Pessoto; middle players Didier Deschamps, Angelo Di Livio, Alessio Tacchinardi, Nicola Amoruso, Zinedine Zidane; and of course the deadly duet of Ale and Pippo. Under the cool hands of Marcello Lippi, what could be better than Juventus?
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Pippo (left) and Ale (right)
I began learning on the effectiveness of 4-3-1-2 pattern, such an efficient style made by Mr. Lippi as Zidane of Zizou as the playmaker behind the duet of Ale-Pippo. Watching them almost every week felt like a magic. I was so extremely happy when they won but completely stressful when they or lost. Thankfully, my classmates both in junior or senior high school loved watching football games. Female or male students kept talking about matches ahead of Monday morning’s ceremony. That was one of the most awesome experiences during my heyday.
Week by week, I was nurturing my admiration toward Ale. I found it a bit surprising how he quickly changed his position in each game. Until now, he is well-known for free kicks. When his team is under attack, he goes down to help his mates in defending Juve. I rarely see him receiving yellow or red cards given his calm temperament. And as a captain, he poses a good example for his fellows.
Such kind of qualities later develop him as my truly inspiration. After a season or two, I agree with my friends’ testimonies who say Ale is better than Pippo. Juventus switches lots of players in some seasons but my love towards Ale is always the same. As long as Juve has Ale, I have no serious objections or I can deal with any kinds of changes Juve wants to do. Entering 2000, some of my favorite players waved goodbyes for Juventini. I was  so sad when Zizou left Juve for Real Madrid. Then, Pippo went for AC Milan.
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Juventus squad in 1998/1999 season
I hated to admit the facts that Juve later recruited the players I disliked, like Pavel Nedved and David Trezequet. But hey! Ale was still there. As long as he could get along with those new faces, I later found it easy to welcome them with all my heart.
So, Ale had a new tandem; Trezequet or Trezegol, the Frenchman that was so famous at the beginning of 2000 for his contribution for French team as the champion of the 2002 World Cup. Marcello Lippi also left Juve and I had to welcome Carlo Ancelotti. So many changes, so many new things but Ale remains loyal.
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The Brilliant Marcello Lippi
And after I graduated from senior high school, I seldom watch football games. I had no TV and when I returned home each week, I was too tired and sleepy to watch them. Besides, I had no passions when I knew the news that Ale got very serious injury that forced him to skip the entire season of 1999/2000. Even after he recovered, he rarely appeared and showed bad performance. Critics said he lost his charm in the fields. It took some seasons for him to really recover and perform well but everything did not come that easy for him to win the heart of Fabio Capello, the new coach, whom I disliked as well given his harsh character. Capello did not like veteran players, so Ale mostly sat in the bench during games. Too often I watch Juve and Ale, I barely remember which moment that I love most from them. They win a lot of trophies, too, except the Champions League. When Ale wins the Cup, I had yet to like football.
In between not-so-good seasons, I had very memorable, the best moment of Ale with the Azzuri team. I had no television at the time but I managed not to skip any single match by the Italian team. I even stayed one night at my best friend’s house just to watch the game featuring Italy at the 2006 World Cup.
It remains fresh in my mind how Ale scored one very important goal that brought Italy to have crushed Germany in the semifinal. Ale was actually not the first choice by Lippi. But yeah. His goal marked such a golden opportunity for his team and he made his best during the match.
And eventually, my most favorite moment with him was when he contributed one goal during penalty kick when Italy faced France in the final. I know it was just a penalty that served as a piece of cake for professional footballer. But when it comes to kick a penalty in such tensed and depressed moment, only those with good and calm mental, who will be able to do that. And Ale just did that. Smoothly.
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The 2006 World Champion
After 2006, things got worse for him and Juve as it was downgraded to Serie B following calciopoli scandal. Some of his mates, like Gianluca Zambrotta and Fabio Cannavaro, opted to leave the squad but Ale was with the Old Lady, as always.
When I moved to work in Jakarta, I stopped watching Serie A for some reasons. First, I did not have any televisions and had been too tired to watch them if I had one. Second, as far as I remember, no local television station broadcasted Serie A for one or some seasons. Even until the 2011/2012 season, I failed to watch Juve or Ale live because of those similar excuses. Yeah, poor me. Sometimes I regret that and still do. To cheer me up, I tell myself that those years in absence is equal with years of dedication towards him and Juve during teenage period.
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Serie B Champion
And now, I am still dealing with this sad ending of Ale in Juve. I am still cursing Andrea Agnelli for not renewing his contract given his amazing 19-year of dedication for La Vecchia Signora. It’s hard to imagine Juve without Ale next season, especially when it battles in the Champions League. For years, I feel fine with whomever players coming up in the team as long as Ale is still there. I still have high hopes to watch him even as a substitute player. But now… I will have to watch Juve without his face in next seasons onwards. And I have to try to bury my expectation to see his face leaving his bench to substitute other players.
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Juve in 2011/2012 season
Thank you very much Ale. May be this sound trivial for a lot of people but I don’t care. I, like millions of your loyal fans, have endless words to describe how you mean a lot to us. It has been such a great pleasure to enjoy your performance, read your simple life, humble personality, and down-to-earth character.
I really wish he will join Premier League so that I can watch him again as often as possible since I have my television repaired. Or any league he will be on, my support will never cease. I hope he doesn’t retire now as he is not finished. He still can score goals and play better each day. Best of luck Ale!!! I love you…
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Il Pinturicchio Ale