Andai Cinta Bisa Membuatku Jadi Menpora

Rasanya ingin tertawa kecil menulis judul di atas sebab aku tahu betul cinta tak cukup membawaku menjadi seorang Menteri Pemuda dan Olahraga atau Menpora. Ah tiada salahnya bermimpi di siang bolong begini. Toh berceloteh tak merugikan siapa pun bukan? Paling ya perlu menoyor kepala sendiri begitu tulisan ini berakhir sebab ya memang hanya khayalan belaka.
 
Meski aku lebih banyak menulis tentang sastra dan kegemaranku membaca melalui blog ini, jendelaku mengenal dunia adalah melalui olahraga. Walau pun Juventus adalah cinta sejatiku, cinta pertamaku adalah bulutangkis. Jauh sebelum aku membaca artikel tentang Zinedine Zidane dan Juve, ayahku terlebih dahulu memperkenalkanku dengan Susi Susanti dan bulutangkis saat awal 1990an.
 
Berkat prestasi luar biasa bulutangkis di ajang Olimpiade Barcelona 1992 lalu  berlanjut sepanjang 1990an hingga awal 2000, aku belajar tentang nasionalisme. Aku mengenal pentingnya olahraga sebagai pemersatu bangsa bukan perang.
 
Setelah akrab dengan bulutangkis, ketertarikanku merambat ke banyak jenis olahraga yang lain, misalnya tenis, bola voli, bola basket, dll. Sebenarnya, sepak bola baru belakangan muncul. Meski aku bukan siswi yang tergolong brilian urusan olahraga tetapi aku cukup bersyukur dengan nilai yang lumayan bagus saat sekolah dulu. Aku bahkan sempat ingin minta dimasukkan ke sekolah bulutangkis tetapi apa daya selain tinggi badan yang pendek, keluarga juga tak punya uang. Lagi pula, zaman dulu bingung bagaimana bisa hidup hanya dengan mengayungkan raket.
Walau impian menjadi atlet lepas dari bayangan, Alloh swt menggantikan cintaku dengan cinta yang jauh lebih dahsyat yakni Sastra Inggris. Dan entah kebetulan atau apa. Akhirnya aku bisa ke Jakarta, bekerja sebagai wartawan dan mendapatkan banyak kesempatan bertemu muka dengan legenda bulutangkis, pastinya ada Susi Susanti dan Rexy Mainaky. Aku bahkan tinggal di kost yang dekat dengan kawasan Stadion Utama Gelora Bung Karno, Senayan, tempat aku dimana lumayan sering menghabiskan Minggu pagi dengan berolahraga ria di sana.
 
Hingga sekarang aku masih merinding setiap kali lewat daerah tersebut, yang merupakan tempat puncak karir atlet nasional. Aku berdecak kagum betapa cintaku semasa kecil benar-benar menjadi nyata. Ingatanku kembali ke masa mewawancarai atlet bulutangkis nasional jelang Thomas/Uber Cup 2008 atau Djarum Super Indonesia Super Series. Hampir tiap tahun aku bisa berteriak langsung di Istora Senayan sambil menyaksikan idola bulutangkis berlaga. Dulu aku hanya bisa menikmatinya di layar kaca sekarang tinggal ganti dua/tiga bus sudah sampai di lapangan tertinggi atlet bulutangkis nasional itu. Atau kalau lagi kuat ya bisa jalan kaki dari kost.
 
Belum lagi setiap kali ingat aku menonton Juventus di stadion utama Gelora Bung Karno tahun lalu rasanya syukur tak akan pernah habis terucap dari bibirku. Betapa mimpi tak pernah Ia anggap sebagai hal yang sepele. Jikalau ada yang bilang apa salah satu alasan mengapa aku enggan berpindah kost dari situ aku akan menjawab salah satunya adalah karena aku tak mau jauh dari kawasan Gelora Bung Karno. Terdengar konyol memang tetapi buat yang merasa pecinta olahraga nasional pasti tahu betapa dekat dengan tempat favorit sudah memberikan rasa bahagia luar biasa.
 
Alloh swt begitu baik kepadaku. Belum cukup dengan pengalaman tak ternilai bisa meliput bulutangkis dan olahraga yang lain, Ia memberikanku pekerjaan, yang menurutku terbaik selama sekitar 7 tahun menjadi wartawan, penerjemah, editor: menerjemahkan berita SEA Games ke-26 antara 11 dan 22 November 2011 di kantor Komite Olahraga Nasional Indonesia atau KONI. Itu adalah pekerjaan yang teramat SANGAT  MENYENANGKAN SEJAUH INI DALAM HIDUPKU!
 
Menjadi bagian tim penerjemah untuk majalah ‘United and Rising’ selama sekitar dua pekan, bekerja dari sore hingga dini hari, berkenalan dengan wartawan senior olahraga nasional yang super lucu dan asyik adalah PENGALAMAN SEKALI SEUMUR HIDUP YANG TAKKAN PERNAH KULUPAKAN.
 
Sampai sekarang aku masih menyimpan majalahnya. Bagiku pengalaman kerja di saat tersebut tak hanya menjadi pembelajaran penting tentang olahraga nasional tetapi juga membuatku sangat bahagia sebab aku mengerjakan hampir semua cabang olahraga tak hanya bulutangkis. Aku bilang ke mantan editor yang membawaku ke pekerjaan itu bahwa aku tertarik mengerjakan atletik dan hampir semua cabang olahraga permainan. Namun tak semua cabang olahraga yang aku bisa. Beberapa, seperti angkat besi, ‘bowling’, catur, tak mampu aku terjemahkan dengan baik dan benar.
 
Setiap kali aku ingat masa itu rasanya aku ingin menangis karena terlampaui bahagia. Aku merasa SANGAT BERUNTUNG. Setelah itu aku selalu berpikir apa yang bisa aku lakukan agar bisa menjadi bagian yang bisa membuat olahraga nasional maju. Dulu pernah terpikir melamar menjadi kontributor media asing khusus olahraga tetapi lowongan tersebut bisa dibilang sangat jarang karena memang kebanyakan fokus ke politik atau ekonomi. Cukup kontributor atau wartawan lepas saja yang turun gunung hanya untuk tulisan panjang dan pertandingan besar.
 
Tatkala menyadari cita-citaku tak kunjung menjadi nyata akhirnya aku cukup mendukung olahraga tanah air dengan menjadi penonton yang baik, yang maksudnya menonton langsung di lapangan tatkala ada laga bulutangkis, tenis atau bola voli. Sejauh ini, tontonan wajib ya Djarum Super Indonesia Super Series saban tengah tahun di Istora Senayan. Terkadang aku juga beberapa kali menonton final ProLiga. Tahun lalu, aku bahagia sekali temanku Widi mengajakku mendukung langsung perjuangan Christopher Rungkat dkk di DavisCup. Sensasi nonton tenis itu sungguh luar biasa, sebesar energi yang dipakai buat mengembalikan bola dari lawan.
 
Satu hal yang pasti dan menurutku paling signifikan yang bisa kulakukan adalah berhenti menjelek-jelekkan petarung kita setelah gagal menjadi juara. Sudah lumayan lama aku berhenti menjadi pendukung yang tak tahu terima kasih; ada saat juara, tiada saat pujaan merana.
 
Tanpa bermaksud munafik melihat fakta memang prestasi olahraga tanah air sedang menurun, terutama untuk bulutangkis, tetapi ingin lebih condong ke apa yang bisa aku lakukan demi memberi sumbangan meski tak seberapa agar bendera Indonesia kembali lagi berkibar di ajang Olimpiade, Asian Games atau SEA Games. Biasanya orang baru terbuka matanya tentang capaian olahraga nasional apabila ada siaran langsung sepakbola atau bulutangkis di TV nasional namun enggan mengikuti latihan, jatuh bangunnya sang atlet demi bisa menjadi juara.
 
Ambisi menjadi Menpora sebenarnya sudah lama terbersit dalam benakku dan selalu meluap tatkala pengumuman kabinet baru. Berawal dari rasa bengong kemarin sore akhirnya ingin sekali menuangkannya ke dalam tulisan ditambah fakta lama sekali tak menulis tentang olahraga nasional.
 
Fakta terberat yang dihadapi oleh Menpora, siapa pun orangnya, dalam meningkatkan prestasi olahraga nasional adalah menyadari stereotip orang tua yang menilai masih susah mengandalkan masa depan dengan menjadi seorang atlet. Sepertinya keberhasilan Susi Susanti, yang kini sukses pula menjadi pengusaha, belum cukup untuk membukakan mata para orang tua. Sebenarnya untuk urusan masa depan, atlet bulutangkis bisa menjadi contoh yang bagus. Selain Susi, beberapa legenda bulutangkis kini turut berhasil menjadi pengusaha, seperti Chandra Wijaya dan Taufik Hidayat dengan bisnis sekolah dan tempat latihan bulutangkis masing-masing.
 
Hariyanto Arbi juga berhasil mengibarkan sayap melalui bisnis perlengkapan bulutangkis, bermerek ‘Flypower’. Meski masih aktif bermain, Lilyana Natsir mengincar bisnis properti sebagai tabungan masa depannya. Pemain sepakbola nasional, seperti Bima Sakti dan Bambang Pamungkas, juga mentahbiskan diri mereka lewat banderol bayaran mahal. Sayang, jumlah atlet yang tetap bersinar setelah mereka pensiun tetap tak bisa menutupi fakta banyak atlet yang merana setelah tak lagi berlaga.
 
Jikalau aku menjadi Menpora aku akan bekerjasama dengan Kementerian Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan agar membuat kurikulum sekolah tak melulu soal praktek lompat, lari, renang, dsb, namun juga penanaman keyakinan bahwa menjadi atlet bisa menjadi pilihan masa depan menjanjikan. Tentunya, kurikulum bisa dipadukan dengan semangat wiraswasta.
 
Apabila aku menjadi Menpora aku akan merapikan seluruh persatuan masing-masing cabang olahraga di tanah air lengkap dengan struktur kompetisi mulai dari level terkecil demi meraih bakat terbaik untuk masing-masing cabang olahraga.
 
Andai aku menjadi Menpora aku akan menyediakan lapangan pekerjaan yang layak bagi setiap legenda masing-masing olahraga agar mereka menyadari bahwa pilihan menjadi pahlawan raga nasional bukanlah semata membuang masa depan, bahwa mereka benar dianggap sebagai warga negara istimewa berkat bakat dan perjuangan mereka selama ini.
 
Semisal aku adalah Menpora aku akan berusaha ‘membersihkan’ Persatuan Sepak Bola Seluruh Indonesia atau PSSI dari campur tangan politik.
Apabila aku menjadi Menpora akan membuat cabang olahraga selain bulutangkis dan sepak bola tak kalah mentereng dari keduanya. Aku akan banyak menggandeng perusahaan swasta agar mau memfokuskan program Corporate Social Responsibility mereka tak hanya untuk lingkungan atau kesehatan tetapi juga olahraga.
Jikalau aku menjadi Menpora aku akan menerjunkan tim khusus guna mencari bakat olahraga terpendam seantero nusantara. Aku juga akan secara khusus melatih stafku agar mereka tak hanya sibuk di belakang meja namun juga turun ke desa dan menyaksikan kompetisi langsung antar kampung supaya menjadi yang pertama menangkap bakat.
Andai aku menjadi Menpora aku akan mendata atlet yang kini hidup kesusahan dan memberikan bantuan layak bagi mereka.
Jika aku menjadi Menpora aku akan lebih menggalakkan senam atau olahraga khusus lansia di pedesaan agar berolahraga di kala usia senja menjadi gaya hidup semua orang, tak hanya yang tinggal di perkotaan. Pastinya, aku akan lebih menggenjot kampanye olahraga sebagai gaya hidup bagi semua penduduk, baik yang tinggal di kota mau pun di pedesaan.
Begitulah mimpi saya, yang entah sudah dijalankan oleh Menpora sekarang atau sebelumnya atau belum.
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Sportainment

This year, I did not miss watching Djarum Indonesia Open Super Series Premier 2012. Last year, I failed to have been present during the event because of some terrible bad news I had to cope. I did not want to see my friends and I was feeling so awful. All I wanted at that time was a moment for silence. But this year, my heart was full of joy in spite of some anxiety that Italy would not make it to the quarter final of the 2012 Euro Cup, but it did eventually.

Djarum Indonesia Open Super Series Premier has been my must-watch event every year ever since I stay in the capital in 2007. I covered the event back in 2008 as a sport journalist. After I was moved from sport desk, I and my friends regularly attended the tournament. In 2008, 2009, 2010, the event went on as usual sport tournament where what I enjoyed was exciting badminton games. Very few entertainment I found. But this year, everything looked so awesome.

I decided I had to make it this time around whatever it might take. So, I washed my dirty clothes quickly and ignored  the fact that I was a bit tired and sleepy. I came to Istora Senayan where the event was being held without a ticket in my hand. I was willing to buy the most expensive ticket but once I got to the venue my mind was wondering should I really purchase such expensive ticket since I thought I saw only an open ticket box that provided for those wanting to buy VIP class tickets. Those with affordable ones were closed, I believed so.

Then, a man offering me a Class 2 ticket just Rp 5,000 more expensive than its original Rp 75,000. Without further ado, I bought it. Then I rushed to the venue and shared joy with thousands of spectators. I was marveled on seeing how young and old combined together, shouting our beloved badminton names despite the fact that our badminton athletes played so poor in the previous 2012 Thomas and Uber Cup in China.

That day’s showcase, however, put me into a strong belief that we do still have a good faith on our players. We are such faithful badminton addicts who are willing to support them in good and bad times. And watching how they were playing amazingly that day, I become strongly believe we are not yet finished.

The day saw four divisions featuring our domestic badminton players. Two out of four won and only one, man single player Simon Santosa, who brought home a title as the champion in the final. Despite the defeat, I applauded to the performances of mixed doubles Lilyana Natsir/Tantowi Ahmad who successfully made me jumping in full excitement while shouting their names. Oh my! I was very lucky to have witnessed such a world class game. Something I had never done in a bit long time.

What was more was that I was so amazed with  how the organizer of the event kept on improving their work. Lots of badminton-theme photo spots, food stalls (though expensive), pictures of badminton prides, free fun games, badminton hall for free practice, and  many more. Istora looked so pretty and alive for about a week. The venue looked so awesome; laser lights were playing before and after each games ended. Even we enjoyed some performance s by local singers, though I dislike some of them. But such cheap ticket for a great way to spend the weekend. One word for this: GREAT!

Anyway, I posted these pictures and I do hope you like it. These are all mine. I keep my fingers crossed for a more fabulous sportainment next year! Go Indonesia!

RI’s worst history in Thomas/Uber Cup: what went wrong

image source: edwindianto.wordpress.com

Indonesia’s defeats against Japan in the quarterfinal games of Thomas and Uber Cup last week have slammed our pride in the popular sporting event. This should not only pose as a wake-up call but more as an alarming one.

Let us set aside our dreams to overtake China as a badminton giant. That will be too much for the moment as Japan, Malaysia, and Denmark are running faster that we thought. I am not just saying. Just look at how Japanese shuttlers crashed the red-and-white squad in the tournament last week in Wuhan, China. Indonesians were stopped in the quarterfinal after losing 2-3 for both the Thomas and Uber Cup teams. Prior to that, they lost 5-0 from China respectively.

I am not a badminton observer. I am a badminton lover who have spent countless hours since 1990s watching local badminton heroes competing in international tournaments. I used to turn a blind eye on those who give fiery comments on poor badminton players. But watching last week’s badminton matches, I can’t agree more on them. And now I am furious.

Indonesia’s Thomas Cup team scores the worst ever record since its first participation in 1958. Underdog Japan’s Thomas Cup unexpectedly beat Indonesia’s squad 3-2 as the Sakura country took points from men doubles Oriyasu Hirata/Hirokatsu Hashimoto, men singles Kenichi Tago and Takeda Ueda.

Indonesia grabs Thomas Cup 13 times, making it as the country with most titles with China and Malaysia come second and third, respectively. Indonesia’s male team achieves the last title in the tournament in 2002. While Japan has yet to win any titles in this division.

In Uber Cup division, female Japanese athletes dashed Indonesians 3-2 following the victories from women singles Sayaka Sato and Minatsu Mitani and women doubles Fujii Mizuki/Kakiiwa Reika.

Japan’s Uber team has better record than their male fellows. In total, it has won the trophy five times with the first triumph came in 1966. The country’s badminton legacy has come into a life again after their impressive performance against Indonesia.

Indonesia’s female team itself has participated in the tournament since 1963 with the 1996 title becomes the last Cup it lifts.

Denmark’s darling Peter Gade — image source: newthebestfootball.blogspot.com

I was actually not surprised should Indonesia’s male and female teams fail to win the Thomas and Uber Cups again given their worsening performances over the past years. But their defeats against Japan’s teams were beyond my expectations. Shocking and painful. I tolerated they lost to China or South Korea but not Japan. I highly applauded Japanese women players who have amazing fighting spirits, something Indonesians need to learn from.

Badminton fans across Indonesia already complain about the declining performances of the country’s shuttlers. Years have passed since they strongly ask for the country’s badminton association or Persatuan Bulutangkis Indonesia or PBSI to start regeneration process. But no luck for the time being. And I remind the association to wake up and immediately leave those heyday back in 1990s.

Regeneration is the key for the awakening of the local sport. Unfortunately, Indonesia is still way behind other countries. When China was preparing junior men singles, like Xia Xuanze, Indonesia was still counting on old names like Joko Supriyanto and Hendrawan. Chinese players variously come up in the screen. They do have a lot of stocks of wonderful players. In 1990s, I enjoyed the performance of Dong Jiong and Sun Jun, though they were still below Indonesians Alan Budikusuma or Ardi B. Wiranata.

Dong Jiong — image source: badmintoncn.com

Not long after that, new names like Xia Xuanze and Chen Hong, replaced their seniors while Indonesia still stuck with veteran players. In the middle of 2000, China had powerful athletes like Lin Dan, Chen Jin, and Bao Cun Lai, who rein over world tournaments, with only Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei as the strongest opponent. And Indonesia is way behind them with young stars, like Tommy Sugiarto, Simon Santosa, and Dionysius Rumbaka. Worse, 30-years old Taufik Hidayat still plays for Indonesia.

In female division, things get worse than male’s. Ever since Susi Susanti retires in 1997, I have been longing for a bright woman single player that will resume her legacy. Back then, Indonesia had Mia Audina but she decides to play for the Netherland following her marriage with a Dutch. Susanti’s successors – Maria Kristin and Ardianti Firdasari — has yet to yield in prestigious titles after their remarkable contributions in the 2008 Uber Cup. Along with their team mates, both players made their way to the final round after the 1996 final in Hong Kong. Indonesia now has Maria Febe Kusumastuti and Lindaweni Faretri, both of whom are 22 years old. Looking at how Lindaweni was defeated by Japan’s Mitani, mentality is inevitably a crucial factor. While China, it has endless lists of talented players, as always. After Ye Zhaoying, they have Gong Zhichao, Zhang Ning, Gong Ruina, Wang Chen, Xie Xingfang, and current stars Wang Yihan and Wang Xin.

Ye Zhaoying — image source: wdict.net

In women and men’s doubles division, regeneration is much better. Indonesia still has Markis Kido/Hendra Setiawan, the 2008 Olympic gold medalists, who continue gold medal traditions in the Olympic Games after Ricky Subagja/Rexy Mainaki and Candra Wijaya/Tony Gunawan. Following Kido/Setiawan’s declining performances, other men doubles, like Alvent Yulianto, Mohammad Ahsan, and Bona Septano, need to catch up with strong opponents from South Korea and China.

Although I hardly know about Indonesia’s strength in women doubles division, I was very impressed with the spirit and solidity of young pairs Anneke Feinya Agustin/ Nitya Krishinda Maheswari in the quarterfinal of Uber Cup last week. They booked an easy win against Japan’s Naito Mami/Matsuo Shizuka with 21-11 21-17. I wish they can shine amid tight competition with Chinese and South Korean players. Again, back then, my favorite women doubles were Eliza Nathanael/Zelin Resiana, who brought home the 1996 Uber Cup, though they were well below China’s Gu Jun/Ge Fei.

One pair that arouses local’s hope is mixed doubles Lilyana Natsir/Tantowi, who surprisingly won this year’s All England. Indonesia is pinning its hopes on the pair to grab one gold medal in the 2012 Olympics Games in London, England. I think mixed doubles becomes more attractive as I saw from predecessor’s pairs, like Minarti Timur/Tri Kusharyanto in 1990s.

Minarti Timur — image source: jvc-abc.com

Trikus Haryanto — image source: naouribie.blogspot.com

During regeneration process, all executives of the association has to include psychological training for player’s mental power. Surely, they will have extra motivation to bring the best for Indonesia. A sense of belonging can be a crucial factor that will encourage players to not give up even if rivals are ahead of them. In sport, I believe motivation is like a magical element that may overturn impossible things.

I know those are all mere words. Easier said than done. And of course, I can’t coach local players to be incredible ones because I know almost nothing about technical things and so forth. But at least, I voice my opinions and never stop supporting them. Through the ups and downs of the Indonesia’s badminton, I will keep watching all players in best ways that I can. Fighting Indonesia!

In the name of sport

For Indonesia, its success to become the overall champion of the 26th SEA Games marks as a point to rise then put more attention to local sport. For me, that means a simple thing. The biennial tournament leads me to understand the first truly love I don’t want to deny: sport.

I want to become a journalist thanks partly to sport. Long before I know Kompas, Tempo, or let alone The Jakarta Post, I love reading Bola and Raket tabloids. My father is the one who introduces me to sport. And the athlete he recommends me to follow is Susi Susanti. I do not watch her performance when she grabs the first gold medal for Indonesia during the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. But as a very little kid, I do believe on what my father says. Since then, I come to understand how great she is. Firstly, it is Susi Susanti then overall badminton athletes. In 1990s, Indonesia is the king of the sporting event.

One of the most memorable tournament is when Indonesia snatches the Thomas and Uber Cups in 1996. And I watch it live on TV. I am so amazed with them. That is the time I have new idols : Ricky Subagja and Rexy Mainaki. They are acrobatic shuttlers. Through badminton, I know how thrilled it is when watching important games. Badminton always makes me feel like that. When the R duo play at the final game of men’s double event in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, I turn off the TV. I just can’t watch them cornered by Malaysian shuttlers in the final match. They win the gold medal by the way.

The victory affects me so much. I persuade my parents to buy me a racket. I ask for them to buy me the Raket tabloid. My father then helps me to understand the badminton game and rule. He teaches me what differs singles and doubles events. He draws me a picture of badminton hall. I want to become a badminton player!

I practice playing the game with my neighbors. Any places will do. Backyard, empty hall. Wooden-made racket or the real racket. New shuttlecocks. Half or completely broken shuttlecocks. Anything. The sporting event brings so much fun.

When I enter junior high school, the dream of being an athlete is crushed because I have to study a lot. Almost no time for playing badminton. I also forget about the dream. I am too short, I guess. This is in line with gloomy badminton achievement in the country. After 2000, badminton continues to be sluggish. But still I follow some of the news. I get a new idol, too : Hendrawan. During senior high school days, I have new sport love: football with Juventus and Alessandro Del Piero. Italy is my favorite team, and is still. I am so crazy about soccer at that time. I can watch games live at 1 or 2 a.m. Also, I almost never miss Lega Calcio, especially when Juventus plays. Thanks to Bola, I love reading sport news. Other sport like basket ball, Formula 1, MotoGP, begin to be familiar in my ears. Sport is in my blood!

But things get far away when I enter college. The reason is very simple: I don’t have any televisions at the boarding room. I can go home every Saturday or Sunday but I feel so drowsy when it comes to football games. Sleeping is above all else. So I rarely watch sport games. Also, I switch my focus on politic and social readings. I prefer reading newspaper to sport magazines. Oh, how people change!

When I work as a journalist, I never really think of covering sport events. I think I love all fields (almost) thus I can enjoy everything. At The Jakarta Post, what does not trigger me to keen on covering sport news is that the newspaper does not include it as a “high-class” desk, a must-to-do desk kinda of thing. So, I just follow what others say. I don’t put sport desk into my dream one. But the moment arrives. I am moved to sport desk after I complete cover legal and politic news. To tell you honestly, I do not enthusiastic, at first. I feel like I am sent to a neverland, all alone, without any friends. Yes, I am the sole reporter at that time. Besides, I still love legal affairs.

But, duty must be done. I must not busy listening to what other people say and start enjoy everything. First tournament: PROLIGA volley ball tournament. Oh my God! Back in 2002, I could just watch the tournament. Being wowed by their smashes and spikes. I have an idol. Her name is Alicia Davidge, an Australian. She is so cheerful as seen in the TV. She does not play when I cover the annual championship but surely one by one I can experience what I could only watch in the TV. Volley ball is so popular in my village. Back in old days, men and women practice volley ball then compete in inter village competition. So funny! I join once but I can’t stand with the ball. It’s so heavy in my hands.

My first experience to have watched Proliga volley ball gradually makes me so happy to be at the new desk. Also, I love writing sport stories, though I can say that is not easy. It takes a lot of efforts to be able to write a good piece of sport story because I have to visualize what I see in the fields, humanize all movements, not to mention expressions. But once I absorb games, everything just comes in handy. Flowing like a river. Never want to stop.

Volley ball then basket ball until I experience one thing I really want to do: covering badminton news. First venue, the place I never thought I could come to : Istora Senayan. The tournament I really wanted to enjoy: the 2008 Thomas and Uber Cups. Oh my… Everything always happens for a reason. I don’t become an athlete but I can still meet my heroes and heroines from the past by being a journalist. I have never thought of that!

I can only gaze at the indoor stadium, the green carpet, the clean venue. After smiling to all of those accessories, it’s time to interview. My first shuttler victim is Maria Kristin. She’s a very friendly person. That is my first experience of interviewing directly to badminton shuttlers. Amazing outcome! I take her picture, too.

Then I interview Christian Hadinata, former world’s best men’s doubles and now Indonesia’s team manager. Alan Budikusuma, Susi’s husband, still handsome although he is a bit fat. He is very welcome person, smiles a lot. My first a bit private interview is with Ivana Lie. She is a nice person, too. She even greets me before entering the stadium one day after the interview. Oh my!

And one day I finally meet her: Susi Susanti. I do not dare to interview her. I am so nervous. I just join senior fellow journalists and nod everytime she acts the same thing. Susi is a very charming person. She answers all questions. Like her husband, she loves smiling and very warm. So, that’s what a truly winner behave!

My excitement does not stop there. Here comes the much-awaited moment: meeting with Rexy Mainaki! Of all Indonesia’s badminton players, he is my most favorite. Even if he coaches old time rival Malaysia, I do not really care with that. I still admire his skills. This time is worse. My heart pounds so hard and I really do not have any guts to even speak to him. I simply nod and listen to his conversation with a group of journalists and record them all. Rexy is amazing person, too. He even directs the conversation, making everything looks so relaxed. He smiles at me. Oh I feel like dead already! He also gives me his phone number while staying in Jakarta during the tournament. With an effort, I am succesful to persuade my editor to allow me write about him and his experience to coach badminton athletes in the U.K and Malaysia. My angle is how he perceives anti-nationalism as a consequence of his professional career. I still keep the copy of the story. It’s one of the best stories I have ever made so far.

Last piece of pleasure during the two-month of sport coverage comes from athletic field. Wow! Never believe I come to Madya stadium and watch athletic events live during Asian Junior Athletic Championship. It’s so amazing to see those runners clock that fast or jumpers pass a very high pole, even by carrying a stick! Since then, I really love athletic. Though not as much as badminton. Oh, I forget to mention I also cover Indonesia Open badminton super series.

Those last only for two months but are really full of joy. Thank you so much God for such a rare opportunity!