Monthly Archives: June 2012


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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