Saturday, April 23, 2011
Just met with a guy who runs an orphanage with 100 + kids. He has a school attached and a few years back he thought it might be rather fun to set up some football matches with kids in the local kampung schools. As anyone can tell you there is very little in the way of organised schools football in this country and significantly less than that for state schools in more rural areas.
His idea of a few schools having a kick around has now ballooned into a fully functioning league featuring 200 schools with more waiting to join. That's 3,000 kids playing barefoot on rough old pitches in the kampungs around Cibubur and Gunung Putri.
The British Chamber of Commerce loves the project and have got involved, helping out with funding while all the leg work is done by the sports teacher at the orphanage's school.
Last year the semi final and final were held at Soemantri Brojonegoro Stadium in Jakarta and had Ian Rush in attendance, holding a coaching clinic and having a blast.
This year's final is on 14 May, that's FA Cup Final Day and it is hoped that Phil Neal, another ex Liverpool player, will be in attendance. Along with all 3,000 kids from the competing teams.
Now we may only be talking a couple of hours drive from Jakarta but many of these had never been to the big city up the road. The traffic jams and high rise were jaw dropping for them as was the chance to play on a real football pitch in a real football stadium.
One of the sponsors was a pizza company. On the way back many of thee kids held on tight to their precious slices. Why? They had never seen pizza in their lives and they couldn't wait to show their family and friends. Forget Ian Rush and the high rise, pizza was tangible proof they had been to Jakarta.
After this year's final the winning team will be invited to a dinner at a hotel and there will be a charity auction to raise funds for next year's tournament.
Ifanybody reading this would like to offer something to help these kids continue their football next season then lease feel free to drop me a line via the usual e mail address or using the one in the side panel on this blog and I will make sure everything is forwarded to the people who are making this happen.
Jakarta Casual TV will be filming their big day to put on line and I am planning on a running a couple of articles ahead of the big day in local old media to help build awareness.
Those of us who grew up in the west will have taken a school's football league for granted with trips to Wembley etc for big games. This kids, by fate of birth, missed out on what we took for granted. Perhaps this one day at Soemantri Brojonegoro Stadium can be their Wembley day out.