Jakarta. Australian rules football, a phenomenon in Australia, is gaining momentum in Indonesia with Aussie expatriates encouraging more people here to get involved and connect to the wider community.
Australia is Indonesia's closest neighbor, and the shared love of the game has enabled the development of Indonesian AFL teams in Jakarta Bintangs, Borneo Bears, Bali Geckos, and Krakatoa's in Melbourne.
President of the Bintangs Football Club in Jakarta, Ben Giles said the importance of the AFL football club is the “love of the game” and to “spread the word within our community to make a difference”.
“I know that we have changed a lot of lives and brought a lot of kids into footy. For us, it's just a hobby but for these kids who are now adults it's become a big part of their lives and for me, that's the bilateral relationship,” Giles said in a recent interview.
Planned objectives and assistance from AFL Indonesia have helped the football clubs in Indonesia develop young players to love and pursue the game. The Krakatoas is based in Melbourne and the AFL International Cup provides opportunities for Indonesians to participate in AFL football.
Founder and president of the Krakatoas Football Club, Iain Shearer’s desire to start the Krakatoas was reinforced by their experiences at the International Cup in 2014 and he wanted to provide “a bridge for someone with no experience to going to a football club”.
“The idea from a football perspective is they [Indonesians living in Melbourne] would go back to Indonesia where they would be planted within the Indonesian development program,” he said.
“AFL Indonesia takes a development approach to make sure more Indonesians are exposed to it, not just football but opportunities to learn how to coach and administer a club and trying to make a sustainable progressional development of footy in Indonesia.”
Once back in Indonesia the footballers share their love of the game and introduce other Indonesians to the true Aussie experience of AFL. Participating in the AFL International Cup engenders a sense of pride and is a reward for all their hard work.
It is not just men’s football that is on the rise, the involvement of women in the sport is gaining popularity.
“The start of our women's team has been a massive win for the club [Jakarta Bintangs] and it's just changed the club for the better,” Giles said.
“Everyone wants to get more women involved and currently in Jakarta the local contingent that is training with the Bintangs it's about 30 percent women and local women,” said Shearer.
Bringing AFL to Indonesia will strengthen not only the bilateral relationship between Australia and Indonesia but also the local community spirit, Shearer added.
“We can change the world in our community and do what's right and that's what we do,” he said.