I had the pleasure to talk with the footballer and Sportjournalist Okky Mahdi Yasser about football in Indonesia.
Position: Striker, Winger
Team (s): PSSI Pers
Hello Okky, you play football in Indonesia, why did you start it and what makes it special for you?
Hi Simon, I started playing football when I was child, 8 years old if I am not wrong. In that old time, I used to watch football matches at television, Serie A match (Italian League) and Premier League, and I also watched our local team in Indonesia Football, either at television or I went to the stadium with my father.
Where do you usually play? Do you have a pitch nearby or are you member of a team?
Me and my friends usually played on the pitch near my house, it is like football field in Africa you know, (laughing), like no grass at all, so barren, but we enjoyed it so much. Ooh how I miss that time.
What status has football in Indonesia?
Football is in Indonesia like a religion. You know Indonesia is a big country with so many islands, it has like 17.000 islands, for example Java, Kalimantan, Sumatera, Bali, Sulawesi, and Papua and each island has their own team to fight in Indonesian Football League called “Liga 1”. So you can imagine, how the people support their own local team are very fanatic. And you know, this year our league already finished the competition. Twelve supporters died because of football, they fight each other with the others supporters. That’s really a bad news, since I work as Sport Journalist here.
But if we talk about our national team Indonesia or PSSI, every single person that you meet in the streets is all know hoe to give their support to national team, from the low class society until the high class. We don’t give up any to give our screaming and loudest cheers for our national team Indonesia. You know, Luis Milla former player Barcelona and Real Madrid in 80’s is our coach. So we really put high hopes to him, because in 2018 Indonesia will be hosting the Asian games. We don’t want to be ashamed in our country.
As you mentioned, you are a Sports journalist. Do you also report about Football games? If yes which ones for example and do you like it?
Yes, in many times. The last time I reported about a football match in Singapore last August. I had the chance to interview Mauro Icardi. It was like a dream come true, since I am a big tifosi of Inter Milan. And that was the precious moment of all time.
Why did you choose to support Inter Milan ?
“Inter Milan!! Forza Inter per sempre”
I like to watch inter Milan play on television. I just had a memory of inter Milan, the first jersey my father gave to me was an inter milan jersey, I barely forgot, maybe in 1999. And the name on the jersey was Youri Djorkaef.”
What is your favorite football player?
I have so many football player which inspire me to play, but most of the time it is Ronaldinho and Ronaldo Luiz Nazario de Lima, oh once again, Diego Milito, he is my hero with the brace in final champions league 2010 against Bayern Munic.
Do you have also a favorite local team, you support?
My favorite local team is Persija Jakarta, the Orange, or Macan Kemayoran it’s the nick name. The team was finished at four in this years, but it good, we can compete in Asian Champions League next year. Last time Persija Jakarta crowned the league was in 2000. But I hope they will lift the trophy next year.
Do you think football gets enough space in the Indonesian media, or do you wish yourself more attention concerning football?
In this digital era, people can be so free with the news, to choose the news, to read it, and so on, so I would say yes. Moreover I am really convinced about football in my country, because we have much young talented football, and it must be explored. I always dreamed that our national team can reach the world cup final, and it must be realized before I die.
The national Indonesian football team is ranked currently at place 165. on the Fifa list of the best football nations. Is that frustrating for an Indonesian football fan like you?
Of course, FIFA banned us in 2015, because of the dualism in our federation. But after the banned finished, we slowly do the revolution in our federation too, like we select Luis Milla as a coach and our grassroots football is quite good this team. Last year our representative team from soccer school U-14 in Indonesia became a champion at Gothia Youth cup in Sweden.
So yes it is frustrating to me and all of the people in here, but we are sure that our country can change into a great time in South East Asia region, even in Asia in 5 years ahead. We never lose hope!
Do you have other national teams, which you watch or even support instead?
“Italy” but they didn’t make it to the final round of Wold Cup 2018 in Russia. So bad.. really bad.
Do you think in the future Indonesian football can develop and the national team can improve more in a positive way?
Yes. Why not. As long as we have a good plans, a good curriculum to a grass root football, we can reach the top in ten years.
Alright Okky. I think that is very optimistic. But we will see. Thank you for the Interview.