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Edy Rahmayadi: We are starting from a position of less than zero
Edy Rahmayadi, newly elected Chief of the Indonesian Football Association. TEMPO/Dhemas Reviyanto
Tuesday, 29 November, 2016 | 15:48 WIB
Edy Rahmayadi: We are starting from a position of less than zero

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - On the shoulders of Indonesian Military (TNI) Lt. Gen. Edy Rahmayadi, 55, lie the hopes of football fans in Indonesia. People pray that Edy, who was elected chairman of the All-Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) during its November 10 congress, will be able to clean up the chaotic situation besetting Indonesia's football world.

Edy faces many problems in fulfilling this hope, especially now that the suspension imposed by the International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA) on PSSI has been lifted. "The PSSI will start not from zero, but even less than that," said Edy. 

Edy, concurrently commander of the Army's Strategic Reserves Command (Kostrad), said he will oversee PSSI's organizational reforms, resolve the dualism of clubs and monitor the training of young players. Edy, who once played goalkeeper for the junior PSMS Medan club, particularly wants to nurture and train players aged 15 years and older, with a view to taking part in the 2024 Olympics. "God willing, we will begin from there," said Edy.

On Tuesday last week, Edy met with Tempo reporters Sapto Yunus, Raymundus Rikang, Rina Widiastuti, Indra Wijaya and Reza Maulana at the Kostrad headquarters in central Jakarta. During the interview, he was accompanied by the deputy chairman of PSSI, Joko Driyono, Secretary-General Ade Wellington and Kostrad Public Relations Chief, Col. Agus Bhakti. Edy spoke openly on a number of issues, like how to deal with rowdy fans, and how to get rid of bribery and score-fixing. Excerpts: 

What will be the PSSI's main objective?

The first will be a short-term program to prepare a strong national team for the the 2017 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur and the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang. There will be no excuse for failing in those two venues, because we will be staking our national pride. We should at least enter the semi-finals (in the Asian Games). The second (objective) will be mid-term and long-term programs of training 15-year old players. We want to rely on them eight years from now, when the 2024 Olympics take place. Before that, there will be the 2022 Pre-Olympics. So by that time, the players we train today will be productive. God willing, we will speak out from then on.


Why not the 2020 Olympics?

Too tough. The Pre-Olympics will begin in 2018. Indonesia still has no new top-seed athletes. There are only Evan Dimas, Manahati Lestusen and former members of a national team consisting of 19-year olds. Some people have even questioned their quality and our answer is, they are the best of the worst. We don't have much choice because football coaching and training in Indonesia has stopped. We're still in a crisis situation. Remember, training at an early age does not bring instant results.


But they do compete in tournaments?

Those taking part in competitions are still senior players, over 35-years old, like Bambang Pamungkas, Cristian Gonzalez and Ismed Sofyan. This shows we don't have enough quality young players.


FIFA trains players as young as 12 years old, then in stages until they turn 23. Why does the PSSI start training its players when they're 15? 

FIFA's program is mainly for Europeans, where the distance between towns and states are not far. We will try to follow the format by dividing Indonesia into three training zones. The first zone will cover Sumatra, the second zone will be Java and Kalimantan and zone three will be the areas between Bali and Papua. Twelve-year olds usually have no concept of the game or specific positions. They play the game wildly, like fireflies. By the age of 15, they will have learned about playing certain positions, which would facilitate their training.


How will you achieve your objectives for the 2024 Olympics when your tenure will end in 2020?

I will create a database so that we can get one or two players from each region. Mathematically, we should be able to get 34 people from 34 provinces. We plan to send them abroad for training, for example, two players to Spain, two players to the Netherlands and two others to Italy, on a rotation basis. Then they meet again over here. We will train them until 2024, so we won't need to look for talents from outside (the country).


Does this mean naturalized players will be the reserves for an exclusive national team?

For the short-term I will will form a team that will be half Indonesian and half foreign. Like it or not, this step must be taken. I don't want a team that fully consists of non-Indonesians. There must be an emotional connection. I met with the father of Radja Nainggolan (top-seed Belgian and Roma midfielder who has Indonesian blood). But FIFA regulations forbid a player to represent two countries.


Besides training the players, you have the added task of reforming the organization. What do you plan to do?

We still use the organizational structure according to FIFA statutes. There is a chairman, a deputy and an executive committee. Later, there will be a special section to manage education and training, as well as the business part of football. I would like to see the PSSI devote about 60 percent of its time to manage the industry and the remainder to train footballers. But without the business side, football cannot go on.


If you aim to reform the organization, why invite the old members to your management team?

Yes, I see the same old, crazy people who want to manage the PSSI. Take Pak Ade Wellington. He is said to be a new person, but not really. He led a squad of Indonesian youths last July to win the international Gothia Cup tournament for 15-year olds in Sweden. The problem is not about new or old people. It's like a ship and I'm the captain. They work under me, including the executive committee, like the technicians managing the engine, the cables and the logistics. The direction is clearly to go forward. If there are shenanigans from any of the executive committee, I will strike them. Please give us a chance. You also have the right to oversee the PSSI, because we are not its only owners; all Indonesians are.


What were the President's instructions when you were elected?

The President's instructions were to make PSSI the pride of the Indonesian people and the nation. Our task is to spread this (presidential) order. Wales, whose population is only three million people made it to the 2016 Euro semifinals. Indonesia has a population of 250 million. Why shouldn't we make it?


How committed is President Jokowi towards football? 

He always watches the national team when they compete. Yesterday, he watched the Indonesia vs Thailand game, vying for the 2016 AFF Cup. He asked me, "Was that the best we have, Pak Edy?" I replied, "Yes, sir, we trained for four months, they trained for four years." (*)


Read the full interview in this week's edition of Tempo English Magazine

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