Impressions For A Lifetime
November 6th, 2018. Global Citizen, Moritz Guertler from Germany reflects on his time working with CAC On-Field with Community Partner Uni Papua F.C. throughout Indonesia over the past month!
I had the opportunity to be part of the ‘Coaching for Coaches’-team (further including Charlie and Jesse from the US, Frans from West Papua, and Peter from Burkina Faso) in five different locations within Indonesia over four weeks: Jakarta, Lampung Timur, Pekanbaru, Bali, and Tangerang. Since it is close to impossible to put all these impressions into one article, I decided to share with you my list of the most incisive moments and impressions, both, positive and negative:
- The first and most overwhelming: getting picked up from Jakarta airport on a scooter (two guys, three backpacks) driving through the ultimate Asian urban jungle of vibrant, noisy, and dirty Jakarta, for 1h 30min after a 17-hour trip from Munich via Doha.
- The most difficult pitch: definitely in Tabanan, Bali – where the pitch was more of a sandpit than anything else with even a road for cars and scooters running THROUGH the pitch.
- The most beautiful: Lampung’s countryside with jungle and clean rivers we got to swim in.
- The most surprising: the professionalism of staff and facilities of Tiga Naga Football Academy in Pekanbaru, Sumatra – a far above standard institution for young boys striving for a professional career in football in Indonesia.
- The strangest: witnessing a trance ritual (called Kuda Lumping; translated to ‘crazy horse’) in Lampung Timur, Sumatra: two women dressed up as animals in wooden masks and a tamer with a whip gave a very intense performance while a repeating series of drums, flute, and spell singing completed a dramatic and vibrant atmosphere, which causes form of trance for members of that ‘cult’. As the intensity and excitement rose among the audience, suddenly, spectators jumped into the circle obviously not being themselves, pretending to be animals crawling through the sand receiving higher spirits into their bodies. At the end of the ritual, the tamer lifts the spirits from the bodies and “brings them back”. They do not remember what happened afterwards.
- The most disappointing: missing three out of five days program in Bali due to one of Bali’s classics: the ‘Bali belly’ basically not allowing you to leave the bathroom for a couple of days.
- The happiest: being able to leave the bed again after almost missing out on the whole Bali project.
- The culinary highlight: definitely Pekanbaru, Sumatra, with its spicy and sweet-sour crab and shrimp, deliciously marinated fish, and the best grilled chicken I had in a very long time.
- The most nerve-wrecking: the roads between Lampung airport and the village where we coached that hardly deserve any name related to street, road, path or track – more potholes than actual road surface – in the complete darkness of the night.
- The best project: the last one in Tangerang Seletan, Java, since participants were so creative and fun to work with.
- The most touching: at the end of the last session in Jakarta, Benjamin, one of the participants, thanked me for the effort and heart I give to his country.
- The most impressive human being: Coach Frans from West Papua as the eldest of seven kids who volunteered many years for Uni Papua as a coach and, after he became a paid coach, financed his first brother’s university studies until he graduated with a bachelors degree just recently.
My overall takeaways are the smiles of the people and the fun they had while playing these games. Don’t get me wrong here: I love football and enjoyed it all my life. But for me it was the first time to play games of football where the competition is not at the core like it has been throughout my football career. It is all about the social impact and the fun; and the fun is present every second – always! I definitely understand now better why football is called ‘The Beautiful Game’ – for me personally, football just gained a whole new dimension after these intense weeks.