Thursday, March 05, 2020


Religious Organization Buys Liga 2 Club

After having the police and military get involved in football in recent years I guess it should come as no surprise a third pillar of Indonesia has fallen for the charms of the beautiful game.

Persigo Gorantolo started life on the northern tip of Sulawesi. A few years back their license was bought by the town of Lumajang in East Java and renamed Semeru Lumajang.

The 'new' club did little of note and people soon forgot about Persigo except for the odd media report which would insert the name into the new club's name, a habit that continues to this day with other mergers.

With the 2020 season approaching it was assumed, even by seasoned football observers, clubs across the country were busy preparing for the new season and yes most were. Except for Persigo Semeru Lumajang.

Then towards the end of February it was announced a large religious organization, Muhammadiya, had taken over the club and renamed them PS Hizbul Wathan. The new owners also said they would be moving the club to Sidoarjo, also in East Java.

One of two large organizations, both boast membership in the tens of millions, Muhammadiya have used the Hizbul Wathan name before some 100 years ago and also were instrumental in the founding of PSSI.

'After preaching through education and hospitals we now want to do missionary work through football,' says club CEO Dhimam Abror.

For now the new owners are setting humble targets, hoping to just survive in Liga 2. Coach Yusuf Ekodono isn't getting a large budget to play with and will be calling upon a number of players who were with Semeru Lumajang last season as well as a few youngsters from Persebaya. Whoever the players are they are expected to have a 'positive attitude, discipline and sportsmanship'. Which I guess means they won't be attacking match officials or opponents.

PS Hizbul Wathan are hoping to attract decent crowds to their games at Delta Stadium as Muhammadiya members are expected to be enthusiastic followers but that will depend on results like most other clubs. PS TNI and Bhayangkara aren't exactly known for turnstile queues before kickoff.

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