After a week in Jakarta we’re now beginning to settle into our routine for the next three months, a big step towards this came on Tuesday morning as Reza accompanied us to the school we are to be working at on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings during our time here. Despite Nina’s warning when we arrived we were greeted by a perfectly pleasant, smiling headmistress who showed us around the small, but very nice, school (It has the obligatory Indonesian-school-pool) before taking us to the classrooms we would be spending the morning in, Robbie with the year 4s and me with the year 5s who were giving presentations on their idols. After hearing talks on a range of people from Pele to Michelangelo, Ronaldo to Colin McRae and Maradona (cheat) to an ancient Egyptian queen (not Cleopatra) As well as answering numerous questions and filling out an impromptu world eleven in competition with one of the kids (mine would’ve destroyed his; he had Bosingwa at left back!) Reza and Robbie turned up to inform me it was time for lunch and so, saying goodbye to the young man who thought it was acceptable to have Gervinho, but not Messi in his team we headed to the local MacDonalds which is conveniently located right next to the school, opposite Jakarta’s one and only Irish pub.
After a hearty lunch we returned to the school for one more lesson, this time P.E with year 4 before heading to our second appointment of the day, a session at JIS Pattamura School with Phillip and another of the SSI coaches. Another exclusive international school, JIS is located over two campuses, although we were working at the older, smaller one it was still, needless to say, very impressive and even more’ international’ than Global Jaya. In our session alone we had kids from all over Asia, the US and Europe. After the classic Arsenal/Tottenham warm up, masterfully led by Robbie we decided to run the same shooting drill that had gone well at Global Jaya on Friday. Unfortunately this time it didn’t go anywhere near as well as it had at Global with the kids not seeming to grasp the basic concepts as quickly nor, perhaps, listening as well. Consequently the session only really started to go well towards the end and had quite a ‘workmanlike’ feel throughout, I suppose in a way the fact that we were still able to put on a pretty good session without it ever feeling easy or particularly enjoyable speaks volumes about our improvement as coaches since August but we still left the session feeling mildly disappointed with the way it had gone. I can’t remember exactly what we did on Tuesday evening but it’s safe to presume it involved a visit to Chitos mall for dinner (I have a feeling we had steak) before heading home to watch numerous episodes of Community, the show which has dominated our time here so far.
Wednesday saw our second day at school and our first lessons with some of its younger pupils. Our first lesson was with the First Graders who, by the looks of things, were doing some sort of comprehension on Penguins (Oling) before looking back at their duties for the week, at home and at school, and ticking each of those they had done (one girl had ‘take a nap’, a duty she had heroically managed to achieve every day that week!). After the lesson was done the first graders said goodbye to myself and Robbie (who one kid had, quite brilliantly, christened ‘Robbie Dobbie’) as we moved on to our next class with the year above. After an art class which saw them colouring in the national dress from various nations whilst peppering us with questions about England, Football, Indonesia and whatever else came to mind Robbie and I gave a short presentation about London to the second graders who were brilliant throughout, definitely a group we want to work more with!
After school we headed to ISCI as our scheduled sessions at Global Jaya had finished on Friday. Upon arrival we were informed that once again there would be no training as the u-14 and u-16 groups would be playing their end of the month friendly games against another local soccer school. After the impressive u-16 group comfortably beat their opposition in the steady rain thanks to a hat-trick from a very talented centre forward and two penalty saves from their keeper, the under-14 group’s kick off coincided with a fresh downpour which soon developed into what can only be described as tropical storm. Despite enough rain to call-off a month’s fixtures in England it took about 15 minutes of the game steadily sliding towards an episode of total wipeout before the ref (Sunday) had enough and called it off, after which a number of the kids decided they hadn’t had enough and proceeded to Klinsman dive it into any and every of the many puddles that had settled on the pitch!
Confronted with a swamp which made us seriously consider our 10 second walk back from the stand to the main ISCI building Robbie and I obviously assumed our Nomads debut, a game which was scheduled to kick off in two hours, would have to be delayed to a later date, a sentiment Reza was having none of. He assured us the game would definitely still be on before telling us he was taking us to the place with ‘the best duck in the world’ for our pre-match meal. Despite Robbie’s protestations that he never eats meat before a game we were soon whisked off in Reza’s car and arrived, still a bit damp, at the Bebek Goreng restaurant about 10 minutes later where he ordered us three pieces of duck, accompanied by Sambal and Nasi (chill sauce and rice). When the duck arrived it was clear Reza wasn’t lying, the meat was amazing and came with a sauce that was delicious, although when it wasn’t mixed with its sweet counterpart it was possibly the hottest thing I’ve ever eaten!
After a second portion each we headed off to the stadium (via the mall to buy shin-pads) where we would be making our debut and were immediately impressed that we would be playing in an actual ground, with stands and everything! This enthusiasm was dampened a bit, however, when we got out on the pitch and realised that, instead of possessing an unbelievable pitch drainage device, Indonesian footballers just love playing in the mud! After a quick scouting report on the other team ‘Latinos’ which informed us that they were top of the league and packed full of South/Central American ex-pros we took our place on the Nomad’s (a team name fully deserved given the diversity on display) bench as the game kicked off. After an even first few minutes the opposition’s first goal left us in no doubt that, although their legs might have been gone their tekkers were still fully intact as their best player and playmaker steamed into the box to meet a cross with an -unexpectedly athletic- scissor kick which absolutely flew into the bottom corner. After this goal the other team largely dominated, resulting in a 4-0 deficit at half time. After the break I joined Robbie, who had been brought on at centre mid at the end of the first half, at left back. Despite playing in a familiar position due to a combination of rustiness and the Copa’s inability to handle mud on such a scale I put in a thoroughly sub-par performance, although I really enjoyed being back in a proper match scenario after so long without playing competitively! After being taken off (rolling-subs, I wasn’t that bad!) with about fifteen minutes to go, and being welcomed back to the bench with a beer, all that was left was to watch Robbie round off what had been a very promising debut on his part as the team finally went down 5-0.
After the game we headed to De Hooi, who sponsor the team, for a few free pitchers and our ‘initiation’ into the club in the form of a flaming Sambuca, after four seconds of my mouth literally being on fire we spent the rest of the night munching on chicken-wings and drinking free Bintang whilst meeting the rest of the team before Reza dropped us off home before heading to go and represent the Jakarta Newcastle supporters club at a screening of the game put on by the Chelsea counterparts.
As we headed into school the next day a combination of tiredness, heat and the 3rd degree burns on the roof of my mouth had left me not in the best of moods. This sulk continued through all of our first lesson before, mid-way through the second I was reminded of the brilliance of working with kids as an impromptu Q and A session with the fourth graders featuring our likes, dislikes and the relative merits of The Avengers somehow turned into a mass-sing-along featuring the hits of, among others, LMFAO, Taylor Swift and One Direction! Mid-way through the second rendition of ‘What Makes you Beautiful’ I was well and truly back and into a positive mood which was only augmented when we somehow managed to swap a last lesson of Indonesian history with the year fives to a first grade music lesson, result!
After school we headed back to ISCI for more friendly matches and to witness our second tropical storm in as many days. Arriving at the ground early we had a front-row seat to some truly spectacular rain which went on for a solid forty minutes and made Wednesdays effort look like nothing but a brief April shower. After this display we felt sure that this time at least there would be no chance of play but were proven wrong yet again, you have to admire the determination and desire to play displayed by the coaches and kids and SSI as barely twenty minutes after the rain stopped I was on the pitch, whistle in hand ready to ref an u-12 game which, had it been taking place in England, my first move would’ve been to call off! Split into four quarters both teams struggled to get to terms with the pitch early on in the first as puddles made more tackles than any of the players. However as the game wore on both teams displayed admirable determination and enough skill to show they were clearly the best young players I had seen during my time here so far, SSI in particular playing some really good football in tough conditions to run out overall 7-3 winners, I look forward to working with them!
The rest of Thursday was spent relaxing after the exertions of the night before as we went for another Bebek Goreng, and bought a few dvds (two films, and a TV series for 2 pounds!) before heading home.
Friday was another relaxed day as, after a lie in we headed to Pattimura school’s other campus to watch Reza’s under-5 SSI team play in a friendly match, in which a team featuring some top talent secured a 7-5 victory! Before heading to Murphy’s Irish bar to sample Kemang’s nightlife in the evening. Good day!
The rest of the weekend was all pretty standard, watched Arsenal ridiculously throw away a lead on Saturday before shooting sessions with the u-6s and u-10s? on Sunday under a scorching sun followed by The Avengers, the best film of the year by miles! (I’m sure I’ll watch it again this week so stay tuned for more raving about how good it is).