Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Uruguay bound

In a couple of hours time 25 of Indonesia's youngest brightest footballing talents will be jetting off into the great unknown. For many, kampung kids brought up in the rural backwaters, this will be the first time outside the country and culture shock is going to kick in big time.

For four years these kids will be living and breathing Montevidean air far, far from home and some won't last.

Families are tight in the boonies and homesick is bound to effect some of the lads.

They're going to miss Ramadhan, they're going to miss pulang kampung. Birthdays, weddings, harvests.

Family pressure might bring people home. It did with Fandi Ahmad. A young player in Holland, one minute he was talking to Johann Cruyff, the next he was heading home because his family wanted him nearer.

This programme is costing the Indonesian FA a million dollars US a year. They tried once before, sending kids to Sampdoria, the most famous graduate being Kurniawan Dwi Yulianto. None made their mark in Europe and many pined for home.

Surely the money would be better spent developing a national football college here, just like they don't have in England. Staff it with the best coaches. Keep training the best coaches. Import the best coaches to give workshops. But allow the kids to be near their families.

Later this year these kids will be breaking the fast in a foreign culture. I don't know how many Muslims there are in Uruguay but I do hope this is an area that has been considered.

It's a sweeping statement, look what we're doing to develop our football, but sometimes it's the smaller gestures that have the bigger impact.

I am Uruguayan by birth, although I've lived most of my adult life in Australia. I am very proud that the Indonesians have chosen Uruguay for this experiment. Uruguay may be a small country,only 3.5 million people, but it has an outstanding record in football, having won two World Cups and 16 Copa Americas! I am sure this will be a great experience for the boys, and they will learn many skills playing in my country. I realise it will be difficult for some of them, but Uruguayans are very friendly people and I'm sure will make them feel at home. Also, when you think about it, the experience won't be too different from that of Indonesian and other Asian students who are studying at universities overseas. I see them daily on the strets of Sydney and they don't seem to unhappy! I have read a very positive article about the visiting Indonesians in the most important daily in Montevideo "El Pais". The article says that the plan is for this boys to form the basis of the Indonsesian national team for the 2012 olympics. I wish them all the best.
thanks for your comments buzon.

sydney isn t that far from indonesia, uruguay is. i don t doubt that they will be well looked after over there and it will be a wonderful experience
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