Thursday, June 02, 2016


When Talent Doesn't Always Deliver

Developing footballers isn't an exact science. Who would have thought the likes of Phil Neal, Lee Dixon or Gary Neville would have been so successful.Not the most talented but definitely three of the most hard working. Neal came up through the ranks at Northampton while Dixon did the rounds at clubs like Bury before getting his break.

Nowadays we have academies which are supposed to sprout forth the next generation of superstars and we are surprised when someone like Jamie Vardy can come from 'nowhere' to be a title winner and international. How can this happen when we have these club owned academies who are scouting kids while they are still in nappies.

The only academies in Indonesia are private ones. The likes of Arsenal and Liverpool have tried to build local franchises of their football schools but it isn't easy. Instead development of young players is left to SSBs, Sekolah Sepak Bola, of varying quality.

The PSSI tried to rush through a generation of talented players when it lauched the SAD project which saw players sent to Uruguay to learn the ropes there. It was a repeat of an earlier project that saw the likes of Bima Sakti and Kurnia Sandy go to Sampdoria for an extended spell. High profile, high cost but are they worth the money?

Yericho Christiantoko is now 24 years old. Born in Malang he started his career as a kid with local side Arema before being selected to go to Uruguay. he impressed enough there to earn a stint in Belgium with CS Vise, then owned by the Indonesian Bakrie family who were prime movers behind the SAD idea.

In keeping with the unreasonable expectations heaped on young players all around the world, Yericho was soon christened the Indonesian Roberto Carlos and despite returning to Indonesia with Arema he soon fell off the map. The only reason he has reappeared in my subconscious is because he is being linked with the rebirth of Persema who are hoping the PSSI will lift their ban and allow them to compete again in the near future,

Yericho's tale is a cautionary one of how young talent can fly so high yet never actually get anywhere. He is 24 and his career should now be taking off like one of his colleagues from SAD Rizky Pellu. But his story has more in common with another couple of promising young players who were in the news recently.

Following PSM's draw with PS TNI last weekend the team flew back to Makassar minus two players. Maldini Pali and Muchlis Hadi were staying on in Jakarta to sit entrance exams to join the police. The two former Under 19 internationals seem to have such a lack of faith in football as a career they are already looking elsewhere.

Maldini is now 21 and once trained with Leicester City back in 2011 before heading to Uruguay for a couple of years. Despite that early potential both Maldini and Muchlis have spent long periods warming the bench for PSM as the club looks for quick fixes to solve their apparent woes rather than give youth a chance and it is unclear whether new coach Robert Alberts will view things differently.

It does beg the question why the hell spend all that money on development when clubs so rarely want to blood youngsters. But then Ambrizal Umanailo at Persija and the Sriwijaya duo of Teja Paku Alam and Ichsan Kurniawan are living proof of what can happen when a coach places faith in youth. Perhaps all that is needed is for someone to say to the likes of Yericho, Maldini and Muchlis is 'I believe in you'.

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