Travels

Hows it going?! I suppose I should probably start with an apology for taking so long to write this post but now i’m firmly back in Jakarta and back to blogging you can all go back to the day-to-day duties which im sure were hideously interrupted with anticipation and worry whilst waiting…! Unfortunately joining you from Jakarta also means i’m currently situated in the Internet cafe which seems to be slowly sucking away my ability to write more than a sentence an hour as well as my hopes and dreams (which are, as of this moment, to get out of said internet cafe). This locale means that this blog may be somewhat disjointed as my surroundings force me to google the Behasa for ‘Turn that crap down ‘, ‘you’re not 21, get off that dating site you old perv’, ‘stop looking over my shoulder, Yes, im aware im white’  and ‘why are you on a motorbike, this is a shop?!’

Anyway, after the few weeks after my last post were taken up with various friendly matches against local soccer schools and SSI’s infamous 3 v 3 tournament the 3rd of July saw Robbie and I pack up our bags, and hideous Batik shirts bought especially for the occasion, and jet off to Bali for a week off which would also feature a weekend jaunt to the neighbouring Gili Islands. Upon arrival at the infamous Kuta beach resort, the Australian equivalent of the Costa Del Sol we checked in to our Hostel to discover the pleasant yet profoundly depressing fact that the bathroom facilities in our, ten pound a night, room (a proper shower and toilet) were positively palatial compared to the squat toilet and bucket shower we had grown used to at home in Jakarta. After coming to terms with how low our Jakarta bathroom had left my interpretation of ‘palatial’ I endeavoured to take full advantage of this opportunity, a conviction which led to an overlong shower which managed to overflow and leave sections of our room resembling the everglades! After managing to flood our room mere hours after arriving we decided it would be best to head to the beach before getting dinner at a restaurant near the hostel called Chasers which was so nice it provided us with the perfect opportunity to live up to the ‘Brits abroad’ stereotype by going there every day, eating mostly western food and watching British sport (in this case Wimbledon) on the T.V! After our habitual meal we continued living up to the stereotypes by heading to the Kuta strip and starting every night in a bar called Sky Garden purely because it offered free cocktails between 9-10, after which we obviously left, straight away. After Sky Garden our nights generally took in a number of Kuta’s other nightspots, our favourite being by far and away the Apache Reggae Bar in which we spent many an hour drinking Bintang by the bucket, dominating the dance floor and wondering why, in a world where Reggae exists, anyone bothers making music of any other genre.  After such nights our days were largely spent sunburnbathing on the beach whilst being inspired by the surfers, leading to big claims about taking lessons…Although whether this inspiration lasts the return to London is yet to be seen!

After the madness of Kuta the weekend offered a real contrast as we woke up early to catch our boat to the tropical paradise of Gili Trawangan, one of three Islands just off Bali. Wanting to spend as much time there as possible we had booked onto the fast boat which would take about an hour and a half to get there as opposed to almost six on the slow one; a no-brainer, or so we thought. After twenty minutes of petrol-scented wave plunging at the front of the GiliCat we were beginning to regret our choice as, along with the rest of the boat, we were fighting to keep our breakfast down. Despite this bad start I managed to salvage my journey, and earn the hatred of the rest of the passengers by moving to the back of the boat where the fresh air and taste of salt water managed to clear my head and settle my stomach before striking up a very loud conversation with the captain and laughing through the rest of the journey whilst various other passengers threw up around me. As soon as we arrived in Gili it was clear the journey was easily worth it as we were greeted by swaying palm trees, crystal clear ocean and beautiful, albeit small, stretches of beach. I would like to write a lot about the rest of our time on Gili but that jus wouldn’t fit with the philosophy of the island, 100% relaxation. In keeping with this our first day was spent lying on the best sun-loungers ever (they were like beds!) eating good food and having the odd dip in the sea followed by frequent naps before meeting up with my sister and her friend Daniel, who had arrived the day before for  dinner in front of the tennis. Perfect. The next day was one of the highlights of our entire stay in Indonesia as we went on a snorkelling trip around the Gili Islands which featured a two stops at nearby coral reefs where we were able to see a ridiculous range of fish and coral before a third at which we saw 6 turtles as well as being shocked by the wall of dark blue ocean as the reef suddenly dropped off 200 feet! This, followed by a delicious lunch on Gili Air was well worth the subsequent badly sunburnt back! After watching the Wimbledon final the next day we caught the, much more enjoyable, GiliGili boat back to Bali where we sat on the roof for the whole journey  and got soaking wet on what was essentially the world’s fastest, and most enjoyable log flume! (as well as getting a burn on my chest to match the one on the back!)

After a final night in Kuta we returned to Jakarta on the 10th for a couple of days work before being joined by my sister on the 12th, after spending the day showing her around (the malls) on Friday she accompanied us to Pancoran on Saturday morning as I took my final session with the u-6 group whilst Robbie led his u-16 troops in a game against a local soccer school. After training we were invited back to Simon’s house for  lunch, our first sandwich in 3 months; a huge deal, before Robbie, Simon and I headed to the Indonesian National team’s training pitch to play for one of the SSI’s directors’ football team whilst Eleanor stayed at Simon’s to keep Sarah, his wife, and Mischa, the dog, company. After being introduced to the various Indonesian media personalities and other rich gentleman who composed both our teammates and opposition it was soon time to kick off in a heat more suited to roasting chickens than playing football in. Although the standard was by no means high, dwarfed by the not-exactly-world-cup games we play at ISCI, the conditions made it one of the hardest games we played in Indonesia. Despite spending the last twenty minutes in a daze I managed to make it to the much-appreciated half time break with the team ahead. The structure of the matches meant that after the first half we had 45 minutes off whilst another games’ first half took place, a break which was sorely needed as I got through about four Pocari Sweats whilst Simon’s celebrity status meant we were asked for numerous pictures whilst still sweaty messes, not the best timing! After our long break my which my leg muscles didn’t seem to appreciate as much as the rest of me we concluded our game with a sluggish second half in which we conceded one but still secured the win, although realistically I was just happy to have lasted the 90, After the games Simon took us for a tour of Central Jakarta which felt like another world from where we had been living, all towering skyscrapers, glass and Ferraris!

After our stint at home I capped off my fortnight of travel with a trip to Borneo with Eleanor and my parents, staying on a boat for 3 nights (which also, predictably, had better bathroom facilities than our house)  we ate great food whilst floating around seeing, and on one occasion shaking hands with, Orang-Utans who were amazing before retiring at night so I could teach everyone an absolute lesson at cards, all in all a great trip to re-charge the batteries before confronting my last week in Indonesia in Jakarta!

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Update

So..that prediction was a bit off eh? I’ve always been a terrible optimist.. Anyway i’m not here to add to the already extensive coverage of brave English defeat and so pledge to go through this entire post without using the terms ‘Brave’ , ‘Spirit, ‘Pride’ or ‘Complete lack of possession and inability to find a player in a white shirt’.

Anyway, after sleeping off the ‘celebratory Bintangs’  mentioned in closing the last post for most of Saturday, last Sunday saw us taking the early shift at ISCI as Reza, who would normally take it, was coaching the u-16 advanced group in a tournament. Thus, after shaking off a bad mood brought about by being woken at what is, for us, the ungodly hour of 7am Robbie and I started the day working with the u-6 ‘advanced’ group whilst Lebry took their soccer school counterparts. After a very basic and surprisingly popular dribbling warm-up in which we had the kids dribbling to various coloured squares we progressed the session by having them dribble through various cone gates before adding a shot at the end against a suitably dodgy keeper (played by myself) to ensure a high level of success! After the familiar chaos of u-6 matches we moved onto our next session of the day, with the under-12 progressive group (although not before Sunday asked if we could take three, instead of the normal two sessions). Our next two sessions with the under-12 progressive and later the under-14 soccer school groups both followed the same template,   a warm up followed by an old Holloway School favourite in ‘bits and pieces to work on different types of finishing before moving on to the ever-popular over the bar shooting game and matches. Despite this uniformity in structure the sessions themselves were noticeably different, with the second much more fun to coach than the first, partly due to a more manageable group size but also the way the kids engaged with the material (and possibly as the goals in the u-14 session were positioned just in front of the road, leading to inevitable running-over of a ball after one particularly wayward effort, giving me a perfect prop to illustrate what happens if you don’t get over the ball!)

After the weekend’s exertions the first two days of our midweek coaching largely followed the same pattern as the week before as we largely assisted other coaches in the running of their sessions, with the major highlight coming from stepping in to pull the strings in the senior groups’ training match on Tuesday. Thursday , however, saw our return to leading sessions as Robbie and I worked on defending with a mixed u-12 and u-10 progressive group. After a number of games without the ball which served the twin purpose of working on basic body position and getting the kids laughing we worked on jockeying and showing attackers away from the goal before moving onto one-on-one situations with a real goal and ending with matches in which there was a marked reduction in diving in as the kids demonstrated the techniques we had worked on perfectly, topping off a good session! 

As well as our SSI commitments, which were rounded off this weekend by match days at both Pancoran and ISCI. This week Robbie, Reza and I also took two sessions for Gareth’s company at a school in Bintaro, a neighbourhood on the southern outskirts of Jakarta on Wednesday morning. Despite being happy to be asked, on arrival it was difficult not to feel the we’d been stitched up as we arrived, still  feeling the effects of staying up for the England game, only to find out our first session would be with the ‘toddlers group’ which ranged in age from one and a half to three years old! Completely out of ideas Robbie sensibly let Reza lead the session which was essentially composed of 50 minutes of tiny children doing whatever they wanted in the vicinity of some footballs. After our wake up call the second session was with the much more manageable primary school group with whom we were able to do more drills in a far more familiar style of session! We have two more sessions scheduled this week with groups who we are assured with have at least mastered the art of walking! 

Other than that the last week or so has largely been dominated by our playing commitments with ISCI’s football team, our games on Sunday and Thursday evenings definitely being some of the highlights of our week. Since the 5-1 mentioned in the last previous post we have won our last three games 5-4, 5-2 and 8-0, victories that have coincided with startling run of goalscoring form for the Arsenal boys, with Robbie bagging seven in his last three games and, much more startlingly, me scoring three in the last two, including my first brace since I was about 12 in the 8-0!

We are now entering our last month in Indonesia and, after a relatively quiet June, are looking forward to a July that promises much; a trip to Bandung this weekend followed by Bali, Borneo with my parents and last but by no means least a much-anticipated return to beautiful blighty!

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Enter June..

I left off my previous post talking about the imminent ISCI 6-a-side World Cup event and, as it was by far the most interesting event of the week it makes sense to start this one in the same vein. After a thoroughly successful and utterly improvised dribbling session with the under-10s at Pancoran on Saturday morning Robbie, Amir and I piled into Reza’s car at 11.01 in an attempt to reach ISCI for our respective sides’ penultimate round of group games starting at 12. Of course, faced with traffic congestion that can turn a five-minute drive into a Odyssey of Ancient Greek proportions this was always going to be ambitious, and so it proved as we crawled what would be a twenty minute drive almost anywhere else in the world and finally arrived at about quarter past. Luckily, as with all football tournaments, the World Cup had already overrun by almost twenty minutes by the time we arrived which meant we had time to find our teams, manage a few quick introductions and get our boots on before the games began. I was joined on the Irish team by Gareth, another SSI coach (and a load of other Irish guys, obviously, entering two players into a  6-a-side tournament would’ve been uncommonly bold) who informed me that we had won our first three group games and were currently topping the group.

With this cushion we headed into our 4th game against the Italians with confidence high, knowing a win would see us through, unfortunately we were unable to maintain the 100% record established before my arrival as a tight game finished in a 1-1 draw. As this was the Italy’s last group game the result left us with a simple equation for our final game against the Spanish, a win would see us top the group whilst a draw or loss by no more than 1 goal would leave us 2nd and ensure qualification. After a sloppy start we went 1-0 down early on after a screamer from the oppositions’ Juan Mata/ Crimson Chin lookalike before we pulled ourselves together and a strong rearguard performance ensured there were no more goals in the game and seeing us through at the expense of the Italians by the virtue of one more goal scored.

After the group games were over there was a break for lunch and a one-on-one tournament featuring one player from each team put on by the ‘Super-Skills’ coaching company who sponsored the tournament. As the youngest members of our teams Robbie, who’s Scotland team had also made it into the quarter finals (at the expense of England), and I were both volunteered to take part and so had just enough time to grab a quick burger before it started. It was whilst in the, very Indonesian (long and slow) queue for these burgers that we met Harsh: an ex-gapper who came to Indonesia with the programme 2 years ago and was back for the week working with Dale, the head and founder of Super Skills with a view to extending the Franchise to the UK . After comparing stories and asking him about life after the gap year the three of us headed over to the one-on-one pitch, where Harsh had also been nominated to represent England. After a quick explanation of the rules; first goal wins, winner stays on and the first four players to three wins reach the semis, we took our places in the queue. After a couple of isolated victories and 0-0’s (which result in both players leaving the field) it was soon my turn to step up, against the representative from team USA. 30 seconds later after a cheeky shimmy followed by a right, yes right, foot finish he was vanquished and I was lined up against my next opponent, a Dutchman. Unfortunately after this maiden victory my next two games fell foul of twin pitfalls that I have always been quite familiar with; laziness and overconfidence as I lost to the Dutchman after a missed opportunity led to a quick counter which I couldn’t conjure up the energy to chase back before, when my next turn came, I thought I couldn’t possibly lose against the Chinese player- a notion soon proven woefully inaccurate as my showboating, instead of leaving him mesmerised, only served to provide him with an opportunity to shrug me off the ball and score one of the quickest goals of the day. In between my losses Robbie fought valiantly in a close loss to the representative from Brazil who eventually reached the final where he was defeated, much to the pleasure of the crowd, by Jules’ son and fellow De Hooi Nomad Patti (whose name I’ve just woefully misspelt) to ensure the prize went back to team Cameroon (who were also in the quarters, against Iran).

After the culmination of this tournament it was time to get back to the 6-a-sides where we were drawn against the Brazilians in the quarters with the rest of the draw being made up of France/Scotland, Chile/Spain and as I mentioned Cameroon/Iran. Despite going into the game as major underdogs we started brightly and had the majority of the early possession and chances before going behind after a slick counter. After this goal the opposition went into showboating mode and despite a few chances bringing some decent saves out of their keeper we couldn’t break them down and eventually fell to a close, and brave defeat as Brazil moved on to play the victorious Scots in the semis. What followed was undoubtedly the game of the day as the Scots, supported by the vast majority of the already eliminated sides, stormed into an early lead provided by Simon, the head of SSI coaching and our boss. Clearly shocked at conceding early what followed from the Brazilians was pathetic as a series of niggly fouls and petty arguments were followed by disgraceful scenes as three or four of their team, angry at the sinbinning of one of the compatriots, started pushing the referee before one of them decided to put him in a headlock which resulted in a stoppage as the Indonesian referee refused to continue and was replaced by a no-nonsense Aussie. This appalling behaviour only served to place any of the remaining neutrals firmly in the Scottish camp and the rest of the game was played to a soundtrack of abuse for the boys in yellow, with the finalist of the one on ones in particular coming in for a lot of, thoroughly deserved, stick (being, in the words of esteemed fellow Arsenal gapper Nathan Hackett, a complete an utter Tuesday). Unfortunately the altercation only seemed to galvanise the Brazilians as they equalised soon after their sinbinned teammate was allowed back on before sneaking a winner in extra time securing their progress into the finals where they would meet Iran, a victory they hardly dealt with gracefully as one joker started mouthing off to Simon about Brazil’s actual World Cup victories as if he played any part in them; basically the same as me going around with a tin foil medal on my chest and getting everyone to call me Sir Steve.

The final itself was an entertaining game and noteworthy as possibly the most popular Iran have ever been in any international arena, as led by Amir, Majid and (im pretty sure) Marouane Chamakh they triumphed on penalties and were joined by me and Robbie for the victory pictures with the trophy before everyone headed to the bar where we ended up doing shots with the Russian team before, clearly out of our depth, we went home and managed about 10 minutes of the Holland game before giving up and going to sleep. Top day. 

In terms of coaching this week has been quite a quiet one, the day after the World Cup we took our routine two sessions at ISCI with the u-14 and 16 soccer school groups for control sessions before heading to a couple of Super Skills sessions with Dale on Monday in order to get an idea of their philosophy before they set up in the U.K. As they don’t play football matches in a traditional sense, focusing on one-on-ones, the sessions are very different to any we have seen before, focusing purely on touch and dribbling and, as such, were interesting to watch. Other than that we have largely been working with other coaches taking components of sessions, although on Tuesday we worked with the ‘progressive’ under-16 group; the best players in the programme, for the first time, taking a really enjoyable movement/shooting session in which we were able to utilize their superior ability to work on slightly more complex topics. 

With the start of the Euros coinciding with the end of the Indonesian school year our days have pretty much fallen into the pattern of staying up late for the football, waking up late and heading to ISCI to coach before dinner and numerous episodes of entourage (Robbie was right, Ari is an absolute hero) before starting it all over again. The only real change to that came on Thursday with our first game for ISCI for a couple of weeks in which a strong ISCI side featuring six SSI employees absolutely hammered pretty weak local opposition 5-1 a scoreline which should have been even more if it wasn’t for the selfish singlemindedness of our strikers. Personally I had the privilege of playing in front of two ex-international centre backs (Jules and Sunday) and bagged an assist, good game all round. 

Finally our week was topped off by heading into Kembang to watch the England game at Murphys with Simon, his wife and a few of their friends (one of whom, Chaz, was also born in Chase Farm Hospital) where we had the privilege of watching the hero that isTheo Walcott do more in 30 minutes than Milner has done in 150, before heading back to Chaz’s place for some celebratory Bintangs.

P.S. England are gonna win the whole thing on Pens, I know that i’m right because that other day I turned to Robbie and informed him Lescott was going to score mere seconds before he did.

 

 

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The week that was.

Funny faces with the 2nd Graders!

 

Hello! I Join you once again from what is normally Jakarta’s noisiest and most pre-pubescent populated internet cafe but which is tonight both relieving and depressingly quiet as obviously you have be a real loser to be here on a Friday night! Anyway, first and foremost a very happy Euro 2012 to you all, with Indonesia being six and a half hours ahead it has obviously already started here and for anyone looking for a tip the score is currently 2-0 Poland after 10 minutes, Szczesny getting them both… get on that.  Apart from that I start this blog with news that for you guys may seem trivial but for Robbie and I has been a major development of the week, the fact that we have now, after almost 7 weeks in Jakarta, have now taken our first full car journey without turning on the air-con; an achievement which obviously indicates our acclimatisation into fully fledged Indonesians, a graduation which i’m relatively involves a toast over noxious cigarettes and sambal in a never-ending traffic jam.

After our session for Andrew last week Robbie and I have obviously impressed somebody (Sunday) at SSI as all our sessions this week have been as a pair, with occasional assistance from the absolute legend that is George or the equally legendary Simon. On Sunday at ISCI we were put to work with u-14 ‘soccer school’ group before taking their u-16 counterparts. With the u-14s it was decided that the topic for the day would be dribbling which, as regular readers of the blog can guess, meant there was only ever gonna be one drill I wanted to take, an Indian favourite, the brilliant Skills Corridor. After going through the usual variations and progression we ended the session with the ‘gauntlet’ game which goes hand in hand with the drill as the kids have to dribble down the corridor whilst protecting their balls from the ones hammered  passed in by players on the side. Starting with the coaches (Robbie, Simon, Sunday and Myself) these players are gradually joined by the fallers until one kid is left to run the course with 16 people lined up along the sides with no aim other than kicking balls at him, a fate that befell Chadra and Rizky who, despite brave efforts were both unable the weather the hail of small footballs (about half of which appeared to come from Coach Sunday’s direction!). Despite this borderline bullying the kids seemed to have a great time and engaged with this session more than most, we were finally able to see a bit of their individual personalities which just makes the session much more fun.

After the bravery of the u-14s we moved on to a volleying session with the u-16s which, after working on the technique of several types of volley, we ended with the universally popular football tennis. Our coaching partnership continued into the week as Robbie and I took an elongated version of the turns session we had taken during soccer school training for the u-14s (or possibly 12s?) on Wednesday before rounding the week off by working on dribbling with the u-10s on Thursday, a task made far harder than it sounds due to the fact that around half the group were Japanese and spoke neither Indonesian nor English, making demonstrations key and coaching points really an irrelevance!

Other than coaching we have , of course, been working at Kembang School. On Tuesday we were greeted with the news that this week would be our last at the school until late July as the kids break up for their five week summer holiday. With it being the last week the majority of the older grades’ time was spent on exams which meant Robbie and I got to spend most of our time with (our favourite) grades 1 & 2. The clear highlight of the week was one lesson with the first graders in which Bu Yaya, the headmistress of the school, brought in bread, butter, ‘pastry stencils’ (for want of a better way of describing them) and various chocolate sprinkles and decorations in order to practice making the ‘sandwiches’ the 1st graders had been tasked with making for Saturday’s graduation ceremony. What followed was a display of culinary imagination that made Heston Blumenthal look like a strictly egg and chip man from the local greasy spoon. The highlights came from three of our favourite students; Rashad, who made an angry bird before transforming it into a beagle, Ochiro, who made a stunning goose before finding the time to create a tsunami (out of a scrap of bread?! unbelievable!) and finally Melauana (?) who’s achievement was more one of imagination then creation as he was able to look at what to anyone else would seem to be a crusty scrap of bread, put a few sprinkles on it and assure everyone that what they were looking at was a ‘crazy kangaroo’… Utterly convincing Robbie and Myself.

The week at Kembang was topped off today with the annual Kembang Friendly Cup, a football tournament held between the grades. After a curtain-raiser between the two kindergarten classes the tournament proper began with the first round game between grades one and two. Supporting grade one, I went into the game confident of an upset, a confidence shared by Rashad who assured me they would win just minutes before kick off, unfortunately this confidence was soon proved to be misplaced at the 2nd graders, led by a monster of an 8 year old, orchestrated a systematic dismantling of our plucky 1st graders before a couple of late consolation goals gave the guys a chance to celebrate and look back on an utterly respectable 8-2 defeat. Luckily, like all good fans of an underdog, I had prepared a back-up and transferred my support to the victorious second graders who, backed by fanatic and vocal support, battled against the odds to beat the might 3rd graders to reach the final were the 6th grade juggernaut proved one step far for as they slipped to a heroic defeat, having already won the affections of the neutrals in the crowd. After the final all that was left was the prize-giving event before we said goodbye to the kids, wished them a happy holiday  and thanked them for their hard work (and the second graders for our thank you cards) before heading home. Although i’m sure i’ll enjoy the extra lie-ins i’m definitely gonna miss working with the kids at Kembang, especially the younger grades, who are just so much fun….looking forward to seeing them again in July!

Other than work this week has been largely spent watching various films and TV programmes after another trip to Poins Square’s veritable cornucopia of DVD’s of questionable validity on Sunday night yielded the new American Pie, Borat, Get Him to The Greek and I Love You Man for the about the same price as the bus to the cinema might cost in London. Added to this, already impressive, combo was The Vow which we had bought on a previous visit but I probably shouldn’t talk too much about on here in case it sets me off again, emotional stuff..

Finally Robbie also decided to introduce me to Entourage this week which i’m thoroughly enjoying so far, for the already initiated in the early exchanges Vince and Eric have steamed ahead as my favourite characters although Robbie keeps going on about Ari. For those of you who haven’t seen the show, well, those two are still my favourite characters its just that I could’ve said they were Chandler and Bagpuss and you wouldn’t have known the difference.

Obviously the hours clocked up on the sofa watching these has had an effect on our gym/swim participation, i’m sure you remember me mentioning the currents of discontent at our pool between the widthers and lengthers in a previous post and the war I was sure would follow. Despite still sympathising with the lengthers cause its fair to say this week Robbie and I have taken up the role of Switzerland in the conflict; not really doing any swimming at all, preferring to dive after our lockers keys in the deep and sit on the steps, possibly actually acting to unite the opposite causes by providing them with a new common, and far more annoying, enemy.

Finally, whilst we’re on the topic of exercise tomorrow is this years edition of Jakarta’s annual six a side World Cup event, held at ISCI, in which Robbie and I are pencilled in for the Scotland and Ireland team respectively. Unfortunately our session at Pancoran means we are missing the earliest group games but hopefully we will be able to get there for the last two, in my case (in a coincidental parallel with the Euro groups) against Spain and Italy, to help push our sides into the knock-outs! Buzzing!

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Last week in May, One month in!

Our week has been bookended by two sessions at Pancoran, Last Saturday Lobry and I took half the U-6 group each as Reza had gone to visit his Grandfather in Sumatra whilst Robbie took one of the older groups. Despite the statement I ended my last post with about u-6s being madness the group at Pancoran are a lot easier to deal with than their JIS counterparts which meant I was actually able to do something resembling a football coaching session with them, starting with the ever popular domes and dishes dribbling game before setting up a little dribbling obstacle course with a shot at the end which the kids always enjoy! This week Robbie and I were paired together to take the under-10 group with Coach George, after deciding to work on passing we split our session into the sections desired by the Arsenal Soccer School curriculum we worked with during the week (more on that later) so that George took the Warm-up, Robbie worked through  the basic techniques whilst I handled the ‘skill’ portion of the session. After a good warm-up Robbie led ‘coconut shy’, a passing drill which has the kids attempting to at first miss balls balanced on cones in front of them with various types of passes before ending with a competition where they try and hit them as many times as they can. After this it was my turn to lead the group for a game of ‘feed the animals’ a drill in which the kids are split up into three groups, ‘visitors’ on an outer circle who attempt to bypass the intercepting ‘zoo keepers’ in order to ‘feed’ the ‘animals’ who are situated in a central circle by passing them the ball. For the first time I had ever tried this drill I was really happy with the way it went, the kids fully committing to their respective roles with a range of animal calls echoing around the field (although most of that was Robbie), whilst also utilising the range of passes we worked on earlier in the session.

On Monday we were invited by Philip to spend our day off  sampling some traditional Liberian food at his house, an offer which we naturally accepted gladly. The only problem with our plan was that we had no idea where he lived as it is quite a distance away from us and so were totally reliant on the competence and honesty of our cab driver to get us there, two areas in which the driver we had was sadly lacking. After an hour in the taxi for a journey we were assured would take no more than 40 minutes we started to get suspicious, suspicions which manifested into certainty that we were, quite literally, being taken for a ride when the guy decided to go through a toll booth, drive about 300 metres down the road and turn back to go back through the toll on the other side of the road! Finally, two and a half hours after leaving home and just as I was forgetting what my life was like before the journey started we arrived at Philip’s place where he told the driver exactly where he could stick his 200,000 Rupiah charge. After some to-ing and fro-ing and a lot of big talk about calling the police the driver finally left 150,000 up before, if there is any substance in karma, driving into a tree. After all that excitement it was just about time for lunch, when we arrived at Philip’s we ‘helped’ (held the spoon to pose for pictures) him prepare traditional Liberian ‘Ground-Nut Soup’ which was served with Rice and was absolutely delicious. After lunch Philip showed us pictures of his family, who are currently in the Phillipines, and his playing career, before getting out his Liberian National Team shirt! Before coming to Indonesia I knew a grand total of 0 international footballers but after a month here it seems like basically everyone I meet was one! After a good day at Philip’s we apprehensively entered another taxi who, miraculously, took us where we wanted to go in a reasonable time for a fair price.

Other than that the past week was largely dominated by a coaching course run by Andrew Douglas, the head coach of Arsenal Soccer Schools. As i’m sure you guessed from the job title Andrew is a top coach and we were really lucky to get the chance to learn from him as he worked through sessions on the eight cornerstone topics championed by AFC Soccer Schools; Passing, Dribbling, Control, Heading, Volleying, Running With The Ball, Shooting and Turns, an experienced topped off by his announcement when we were taking notes that all participants would be receiving a new drill-book outlining all the sessions we worked through- something which, after a year of coaching, Robbie and I agreed is pretty much like Christmas!

On his final day in Indonesia Andrew put the coaches into the groups with each given a topic to coach in order to asses how much they had learnt during the week. Working as a pair, Robbie and I were given turns and asked to structure a 22 minute session featuring a warm-up, components working on technique and skill before finishing with a small-sided game related to the topic. After drawing up a blueprint we split the session up so that Robbie took a ‘traffic lights’ warm-up, where he would hold up coloured cones with a turn assigned to each before I worked on the technique of slightly more advanced turns through ‘zig-zag’ races, It was then back to Robbie to take the skill session in which we introduced ‘taggers’ to encourage the players to accelerate after turning before finishing with a game in which two team each had one goal at either end of the pitch to encourage them to turn and attack the other end if one goal was  blocked off. Despite overrunning slightly we were both really pleased with the way it went, and even more so when we received good feedback from the boss who described our session, despite coming after everyone else s,  as the funnest of the day! After  he had gone through the plus and negative points of everyone’s sessions all that was  left was to collect our certificates, pose for a few pictures with the boss and the local coaches before receiving our expenses for the month to top off a top week! (they later took a serious hit on a trip  to Kemang, as to be expected)

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They say it never rains but it pours and my current situation may be one of the few times that maxim is apt for Indonesia, a country where it both rains and pours regularly, as a missing wallet has a joined a broken laptop on the disaster list! Yes, after a late kick off on Sunday afternoon I returned to the ISCI granstand to discover a bag minus a wallet and a sudden sense of panic as I realised how screwed that left me, a feeling which has now largely subsided due to a series of generous loans from the kind and noble Robbie Dudley esq., an emergency transfer of some funds and the lucky coincidence that, with my drivers license, Uni ID and most other cards dissapearing with my previous wallet in the winter of 2011 there wasnt actually all too much of any importance left to lose.

Anyway, enough of that, where were we? After blogging on Saturday afternoon Robbie and I headed off to ISCI to watch, or so we thought, the play-off final before the champions league with the rest of the coaches. Unfortunately after arriving an hour and a half early especially we discovered they wouldn’t be showing the game. a frustration only soothed by discovering Scooby Doo was on once we were given control of the remote. After watching the gang solve the, mildly racist, problem of the dragon attacking a scottish medeival fair, we were joined by some of the other SSI coaches, starting with Coach Amir and his friend, and fellow Iranian pro-footballer, Majid swiftly followed by the owner of SSI- who immediately got us taking advantage of the drinks he was paying for- Coach George, Reza, Irfan, members of the Indonesian Arsenal supporters club and, eventually, the boss, Simon. Along with free drinks the owner also put on a BBQ topped off with free magnums. After the food and a couple of pre-game wagers the match finally kicked off at 1.45 am Jakarta time, with everyone supporting Bayern apart from Simon we were obviously horrified at the finishing- especially the missed pen which, at 2-1, wouldve seen me collect at cheeky 100k  (Indonesian obviously, about a fiver) off Reza. By the end though we just wanted somebody to win as it was well past 4 and we were struggling, it’s also difficult to be annoyed at a result that sees Tottenhams’ ‘best squad in years’ consigned to another year of Thursday night channel 5 anonymity whilst an Arsenal squad who lost Cesc, were without any full-backs for months and were beaten 8-2 at the start of the season will have yet another year at Europe’s top table (albeit be it one sullied by a team as poor as Chelsea winning it)… Mind the Gap.

The night was topped off by Amier, who was so keen on betting prior to the game, refusing to take the 100k winning he earned for backing Chelsea dismissing the bet as all fun…..Obviously has Bayern won I would have been walking away with a sweet five pound profit in my pocket, fun or not.. ha.

After returning home at 5am  we were very glad of a lie-in on Sunday, even more so when we arrived at ISCI and saw Reza who told us he hadn’t slept before his 8am session! There was no real coaching this week as it was the MAy round of SSI’s monthly 3 on 3 tournament and so our day was spent reffing, totting up the scores and attempting tricks that we have nowhere near the technical ability to pull off. After our allocated four games Robbie and I headed home, although mine was only a brief visit to pick up some clothes before making my debut for the ISCI football team. Playing in a side largely made up of ex-pats against a local team I started in centre midfield alongside Coach Sunday and Majid who played Centre Back and Forward respectively. Despite the youthful vigour and eager running of the opposition I started the game well and we went ahead after about half an hour, in part due to a howler from the Ref- one of the many errors from the officials throughout the game with the linesmen in particular verging on the hilariously bad. We held this lead until the second half when the conditions started to catch up with me and my game became as series of sporadic 3 minute periods of activity interspersed with larger periods of not moving very much. Despite this, and the opposition drawing level from a penalty earned with an outrageous dive which saw one of my French team-mates chase the offender around the pitch for about 30 seconds before banishing him to the stands, we manged to secure the win with a precise- Rory McIlroy-esque- chip over the keeper by the Skipper with about 10 minutes to go. When talking to Simon about the game the next day he told me the key to playing in Indonesia was ‘stretching out’ a performance over 90 minutes- I.E if youve got a good half an hour in you don’t use it all at once! I think my second half performance may have illustrated this slightly too literally but all in all I was happy with  a debut which was fuelled entirely by a 5k packet of crisps and a powerade. 

On Monday we attended a coaching meeting called by Simon to discuss the type of sessions we are putting on and how it would be possible to improve them. As SSI is a soccer open to anyone who pays the entry fee we deal with players from a wide-range of ability levels and the start of the meeting was all about keeping sessions fun for those players who are just starting out, particularly in the younger age groups. After a quick talk we headed out onto the field where he ran through a number of games, some we had done with John back in London but a few, particularly ‘Doctor/Doctor’ were definitely a welcome addition to the repertoire. The second part of the meeting was about structuring sessions for the next ability level up, after another quick talk we were back on the pitch where we were shown a number of really good small sided games for L.2 groups. As a coach you can obviously never have too many drills and being given some that have been used by international football teams was obviously brilliant! 

After the meeting we headed over to the pool at Citos, a place readers of Robbie’s blog will have seen being referred to as our ‘haven’- a sentiment I wholeheartedly agree with- although it has been beset of late by underlying tensions of late between the ‘lengthers’ (featuring myself and Robbie) and the ‘widthers’- the people who go to and swim widths of the pool thus interrupting the people trying to do lengths What’s that about! I mean who over the age of 12 does that, I’m sure you can sense the hate just reading this blog and i’ll try to keep you updated on what i’m sure will descend into a vicious turf-war. 

On Tuesday it was, of course, back to school in Kemang, a day we were particularly excited about as we were scheduled to give a talk to the 1st Graders about England, after much wikipedia preparation we split our talk into different sections covering; London, English Food, Music, Transport, Buildings, The Royal Family and whatever else came into our heads. Although their excitement sometimes led to them just shouting out whatever they knew about England leading to answers such as ‘What kind of transport is there in England: UNITED KINGDOM’ or ‘Does anyone know any English foods: LIVERPOOL!’ the talk was really enjoyable and the kids were really excited by playing the royal family and hearing about how Saint George killed a dragon! After the presentation we gave them a choice of handouts we had prepared earlier which let them colour in the queen, Tower Bridge, Big Ben or Wembley before patting ourselves on the back for doing ‘proper teaching’! The next day our success of the day before had obviously gotten around the school as we were immediately asked to take the 3rd grade class in the morning, luckily as ‘proper teachers’ we were obviously prepared and played a game in which the kids were placed in groups and had to think of a word beginning with a specific letter to fit into various categories (Famous Person, Animal, Food etc.) It’s safe to say the game was a popular one as ‘Team Tammy’, ‘RPG’ , Paparazzi, Armour and ‘Hot Jalapenos’ nearly deafened Robbie every time he asked if they were ready for a new letter. Amongst the excitement we were really impressed with their level of English with RPG particularly impressed when they produced ‘Narwhal’ for their Animal on N after Robbie and I had been proud of Newt! After the success of this game with the 3rd Graders we were asked to take it again, slightly modified, next lesson with the year below, given slightly easier letters this group also took to the game brilliantly and, despite not quite coming up with anything to rival the sheer brilliance of Narwhal team ‘Galaxy’ did manage to produce one brilliant answer for their Famous Person. Struggling on the letter A I though i’d offer some advice by telling them to think about my name expecting them to come up with Adam Levigne or the, apparently famous, Adam Lambert, they chose not to go that way, instead giving me as an which was largely found not to be sufficient…apparently 980 blog views doesnt count as ‘famous’….

As I re-read this, and the rest, of my posts from Indonesia so far I realise it’s beginning to sound more like a diary than the football coaching blog you logged on to read (although I like to think it’s really for my wit and natty sentence structures). Although i’ll try and remedy this in the future the main reason behind this is that, apart from the last few days, due to public holidays and various match-days we haven’t done that much coaching of late. That’s not to say there hasn’t been any, the last three days have seen us take three very different sessions, two at ISCI and one at JIS. On Tuesday we were each given at group of, mostly, u-14s with Robbie taking a touch session whilst I worked on running with the ball. Although there was nothing wrong with either session we both felt there wasn’t anything particularly good about them either as it seemed to be hard work to get the kids talking again, with the races and competition that proved so popular in the UK or India not seeming to have the same affect here resulting in another quiet session, definitely something to work on! Back at ISCI on wednesday we were given control of a group of 20 u-12s and decided to work on possession, movement and communication. This session was by far the most enjoyable at ISCI so far, conscious of how quiet the previous groups had been we opened the session by pairing the kids up and getting them to shout their partners name as loud as they could. This set the tone for the session as the ever popular ‘Arsenal hand-ball’ game was accompanied by a soundtrack of shouts which was exactly what we wanted! After a number of progressions we ended with a big game on the floor where four teams were playing across each other at the same time, carnage! Finally, today we had our last session with the u-6 group at JIS, with whom noise has never been a problem! After a ‘quick Robin Hood’ warm up we finished with matches during which im pretty sure Robbie, Lobry and I used as much energy sorting out who was in goal, chasing kids who had wandered off  and dealing with injuries as they did playing up the game. For any prospective coaches reading this, u-6; great fun, but total madness!

Anyway, I’ve spent far too long in the internet cafe writing this post – i’m now worried im either gonna fall a victim of identity theft or get a world or warcraft account- two scenarios im sure you agree would be awful, so i’d better be off. I’ll try and get some pictures up soon! 

 

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Disaster..

I feel I should start this post with what is both the biggest news of the last few weeks and an explanation of why this post has taken so long it has to cover a ‘few’ ! Unfortunately my laptop has been stricken with what I can only assume is some sort of of late onset millennium bug which has rendered the screen about as useful as the two jumpers I brought to Indo with me! This coupled with the fact that I still haven’t collected the notebook I left at JIS Pattimura last Tuesday me in a pretty poor state of affairs in the chronicling-of-my-time department meaning i’m gonna be playing it pretty fast and loose with regards to timings/dates. 

The other non-football related news that has had the largest affect on our lives here over the last fortnight was our membership to the local Gym/Swimming Pool next to Citos, a membership which not only allows us to go swimming every day after work but also, just as importantly, enables us to use the actual showers! 

With our membership of the  Pool our days have settled into a pretty well-established pattern with school in the mornings followed by coaching, swimming and dinner at Citos. Our actual coaching duties have definitely improved after the ‘match week’ at the end of April/start of May, as the month has progressed we have started to have a much larger role to play in sessions, taking largely independent ones at ISCI, Pancoran (u-12s/ u-16b) and Jakarta International School where we worked Reza’s… energetic, u-6 group who were a lot of fun but very hard work! 

Last weekend was probably the best of our time here so far, starting with a really enjoyable control session with the u-12 group at Pancoran. Although the group displayed an improvement in technique the most enjoyable aspect of it was definitely getting the kids out of their shells by encouraging them to shout for the ball, an aspect some them definitely took to heart as demonstrated by the stick they were giving me when I went in goal for the match (although I had the last laugh, leading my team to a comprehensive victory which I obviously rubbed in their faces). In the early parts of our time here Robbie and I often commented how quiet the kids were during sessions both in terms of calling for the ball and the normal banter you would expect to hear, however recently they seem to have become a bit more comfortable around us which has led to more interaction between each other and us, a good thing as generally (within reason) a noisy session is a good one!

After Pancoran and returning home we were invited out to play Futsal with some of the guys from Nomads at an indoor centre next to Pondok Indah Mall (altough Reza maintains that, because of the 3g it’s not ‘proper futsal’). After playing it for four years at Uni its safe to say i’m a massive fan of five a side but playing it in Indonesia is a completely different ball game (no, it literally has a different ball), the main difference is, as with all things here, the humidity, luckily each team has one sub, a role which rapidly became the most coveted position in the side as our hour playing time began to stretch into what felt like eternity. Despite this heat, however, it was a lot of fun to be playing 5s again and, although Robbie got injured after about 20 minutes I felt we both gave a good account of ourselves.. Thank God for Powerade! 

After the game everyone was heading back to De Hooi, via a shower, for it’s 20th Anniversary celebrations where the rumours were, there would be free beer. After stopping off at Citos to use the facilities we met up with Reza for dinner before heading to the bar at about 8 where discovered the owner was providing 20 free BARRELS of Bintang for the night, although this seems like as the offer has been running since half five Robbie and I were wary of running out and so rushed through our first few drinks before being informed they were only one barrel down, at which point we had to explain to the locals how different things would have been in the UK! 

After a top night at De Hooi the next day we had managed to secure the afternoon shift at ISCI which meant we got to enjoy a leisurely lie-in before heading to training at 12 where we were each allocated a different group of under-12s to work with, Robbie with Amir and me with Simon. After the succesful session the day before I was in a confident mood and was very pleased with the way my session, this time on using your touch to create space, went … especially with Simon (the ex-cameroonian pro still accorded legend status in some parts of Indonesia) there to help me with translations and demo’s, all in all I think we were a good team! Following our under-12 sessions Robbie and I were paired together to put on a session with the U-16 ‘soccer school’ (as opposed to ‘progressive’) group, deciding to work on shooting we ran a drill called ‘the chaser’ in which groups of 2/3 situated on different cones have to run on goal and shoot before various progression and variations are added. Shooting drills are always popular, and this proved no exception, the kids particularly seeming to enjoy representing cones named after premier league teams; Arsenal, Tottenham, Liverpool,Chelsea, City, United and (at Robbie’s insistence) Glasgow Rangers! It was however, a bit of a change from the norm that we had to keep on having a go at the kids not to pass! After two good sessions we headed home were a quality weekend was, of course, topped off by the most dramatic end to a season I’ve ever seen, securing both Arsenal, and my fantasy football team’s place in the ‘Champions League Spots’ of our respective leagues..

This week has been pretty quiet as, after our day off on Monday, school was cancelled due to a family bereavement on Tuesday and Wednesday before everywhere was shut for Indonesian public holidays on Thursday and Friday meaning our only real activities other than the standard, DVD/Swim/Nasi (or Bebek) Goreng was another coaching clinic at the same school as we visited on our first week (with less kids this time, no need for a microphone!) before another visit to Murphy’s Kemang to topple it’s famous San Miguel ‘tower’ on Thursday night where we ran into Simon, the new boss, before heading our to another nondescript Indonesian night club and topping the night off with a couple of McDonalds Spaghetti’s! Which cost about 30p each, today Robbie and I had 5 between us….Ok, I had 3. 

After a week or two of pining after India/ Home I feel much more settled in Indonesia now, we’re getting to do a lot more coaching, a trend I hope will only continue and even the humidity seems less of an issue now I have a new fan which Nislam managed to assemble after I threw a strop, convinced I’d been conned, which has elevated him to god-like status in my eyes. Anyway, I’d better be off, got a BBQ paid for by the boss for the Champions league final tonight to go to, Happy Days! 

 

P.S. I watched Avengers again, It’s still the best thing ever. 

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