Monday, October 24, 2011


Bachdim Faces Three Month Ban

Irfan Bachdim burst on the Indonesian football scene some 12 months back but unfortunately it wasn't only his football people were talking about. His supposed boyish good looks, done nothing for me, had teenage girls swooning in ways Budi Sudarsono and Jendri Pitoy could only dream about. Bachdim, and his model girlfriend, moved from the sports pages to the front pages as the celebrity world discovered him and, momentarily at least, made the national team cooler than a polar bear in Raybans.

Soon, it became clear that Bachdim's focus was no longer on kicking a ball and his team mates. He spent more and more time on personal sponsorship deals, appearances and a movie, missing training and cutting a more remote figure at his club, Persema.

His presence made the unfashionable Persema, the other Malang team, the glamour club of the short lived Liga Primer Indonesia, adding a few hundred to the gate here and there but all was not well.

Advice is easy to find in football as in life. The trick is to filter the bullshit and that only comes with experience. Fortunately football is littered with the wreckage of careers damaged by the inhalation of fame, riches and recognition at an early age. Bachdim needed protecting if he was to fulfill his ability much like Alex Ferguson did with Ryan Giggs.

But with a model girlfriend and an entourage who loved the limelight more than he did Bachdim was backing a loser from early on. No longer a shoo in, his football star has waned while he has seemingly concentrated on his extra curricular activities. Perhaps they do earn more, perhaps that is what he really wants, perhaps we will never know.

Bachdim is a likable lad, bemused by the nonsense that surrounds him but not strong enough to knock it on the head. Now, after falling out of favour with the national team and the Under 23s he has been banned from all football for Indonesia for three months for not turning up for training camps among other reasons.

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