I’m not a diehard fan of football (or in some country they called it soccer), but yeah, I like to watch a football game. Some of my friends mocked me by asking me where’s the fun in watching 21 men chasing one little ball and try to put it in net. Silly, but they got a point there. For me personally, why I choose football among other sport because of what it takes to win one game, not only you need to be skillful with your feet (imagine how hard it is trying not to touch the ball with your hand for 1 hour), but it also requires a good stamina (more than 2 hours running around), a strong team work and not individual effort, a strategic thinking, a leadership, a strong spirit and passion, and many qualities JUST to put one goal. The tireless effort is astonishing to watch, and the 2 hours game is never too long.
But all this time, I only watch BIG matches on TV, after all my favorite one is the ELP match with Manchester United in it and – of course – the World Cup. In high school I was watching almost all leagues, but along the time (read: getting older) I don’t think I still have the energy to watch them all and stay up late every weekend. BUT – I always imagine how cool it’ll be watching a game live from stadium – well, as for me watching Manchester United for specific. I’ve been watching a lot of movie about football fans, their bigotry, and the crazy vibe in stadium during the football match, it intrigued me a lot.
And so one day last week, my client asked me to arrange “Nonton Bareng” (Watching Football together) between Nike and the Media People. It’s an Asian Cup Match, between Indonesia VS Kuwait. And Nike is one of the main sponsors for our National team, providing the jersey. And most of the player also already signed as Nike’s athletes. I was spontaneously concern! Well, that’s natural, since anything that you hear about Indonesian football match is in negative tones, all about riots, fisticuffs, chaos, and a horrible traffic jam after the match. We all know that sportsmanship it is not only for teams but for fans also. And football fans seem just as aggressive as any other game especially in this “developing country”. In Indonesia all of them aggressive: the player, the referee, the managers, the coaches, and you tell me the fans. They’re literally in a war when it comes to a match! So, hm… is it wise to go there with media people? I have no idea. But o well, lets say it’s in my profession’s risk, if you have client in sports industry, you gotta do what you gotta do anyway.
Jakarta’s stadium names “Gelora Bung Karno”, it’s a multi-use stadium right in the heart of Jakarta, you can reach it from all direction without ever getting lost — if someday you come here and need to go there. It is named after Sukarno, Indonesia’s first President, and mostly used for football matches., The stadium’s original capacity of 100,800 people was reduced to 88,083 as a result of renovations for the 2007 Asian Cup. It is divided into 24 sectors and 12 entrances, and into upper and lower stands. A special feature is the huge steel roof that forms a gigantic ring and protects the spectators from the heat. , I feel kinda proud of it. At least my country has one decent stadium thou it’s not the one that kickin’ ass. The maintenance it’s quite good, especially for the VIP and VVIP part, I found it very much clean and bright. I feel safe, and all the clouds of doubt that things is going to be crazy and chaotic here slowly diminished.
We were waiting for media people from 6 O’clock to around 8 o clock, it was around 15 people confirmed to come. The kick off was in 7.30 pm, but it was a bit delayed, so when we’re enter the stadium the game only started for only 15 minutes. Well, rules number one, don’t get into the stadium too late or you might lose the best seats. Thou we got the VVIP one but I don’t think it’s the best seat, in fact it’s the worst seats — to my disadvantage, our group got seats right next to a group of Kuwait people! My goodness! So you know when everyone looking at your direction with anger and rage! O course it’s not us they’re looking at, but still if something happen and they plan to attack and beat out the Kuwait people, I’ll be surely doomed! And it did almost happen!
Around minute 35th, one of Indonesian player bumped with Kuwait’s player (I don’t really remember what was actually happen) and the Kuwait’s Manager jumped from his seat and protest to the referee. All of the sudden all Indonesian in the entire Stadium stand up from their seat and start yelling to the top of their voice with a very harsh language, they’re cursing, pointing at the manager’s direction. The Kuwait fans also got up from their seat, walking toward the gate that bordering the field with protesting gesture. Then some people start to throw a water bottle to the Kuwait group and it almost hit my head too! First I was feel so scared, some of the fans even not just get up to the from the seat, they leave the seats and walking towards the Kuwait group. Can you imagine, around 50.000 something people against 70 something Kuwait. Hm, someone surely going to die if s*it happen… but the security succeeded in conciliating the audience. People back to their seat and start focus on the game again. And that’s what happened along the game. Whenever Kuwait team was trying to attack everyone will boo-in and when it’s Indonesia got the chance for kick a goal, everyone cheer up. That was so tense!
But seriously, instead of feeling scared, I started sharing the spirit and enthusiasm with other Indonesia fellow fans. I start singing, yelling, pointing, jumping , and of course boo-ing. I don’t care, I was drown in the ebullience of encouraging the team, out team. When Indonesian team finally produce a goal we’re all jumping and yelling to the top of our voice! Even people that we meet day to day, who usually looked so calm and fun, seemed no longer like themselves, they’re turn into savage barbaric fans, who are dancing and angry like nuts! Hahaha.
The game end with draw, 1 for Indonesia and 1 for Kuwait. I remember when Kuwait kicked a goal, everyone standing with disbelief eyes and the energy suddenly faded for like 5 minutes, all like cold water poured to a hot stone. but several minutes after that people started to encouraging one another. All was so forceful in a beautiful way. Watching a football game in person at the stadium is one of life’s ultimate experiences. If you are a football fan, you know what I mean. If you going to ask me to see football again – live, I’ll say Hell YEAH!!! (O… but VVIP please).