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Badminton Culture in Indonesia

The paper says, “Indonesia team leaves Birmingham empty-handed following their total failure to reach of finals at the 2009 concluded All England Super Series.” I get used to read such news. I notice some changes have been occurring.

Indonesian badminton athletes today are more often likely to shout for celebrating any point gained, as the coaches told them to relieve the emotion, and “terrorize” their opponents. Finally, this manner only makes them no different with Chinese, South Korean, and European athletes.

I am not saying yell on the court is bad. I am just losing the low profiles athletes like Hendrawan (be coach now), Taufik Hidayat, or Maria Kristin. I miss the “shout as loud as you can while I just try to stay calm and play better than you” attitude. This used to be our cultural characteristic as the East people.

I also miss the respect toward opponent. An Indonesian legendary, Rudi Hartono, would pick the shuttlecock up and passed it above the net to be caught by his opponent. He has never passed it below the net. When a shuttlecock fell right in Rudi’s play field, he saw it as his fault. So he was in charge for it by serve his opponent proper shuttlecock. By this philosophy, Rudi Hartono is the only one on earth who won All England eight times. The highest achieve is never to beat the opponents, but instead to respect them. Even martial art’s masters will nod about this.

What I miss for more is the achievement of Indonesia. It has been declining, particularly when we look on the statistic of Olympics. Indonesia has:

Five medals from Barcelona 1992. Two golds (Susi Susanti/female single and Alan Budikusuma/male single), 2 silvers (Ardy Bernardus Wiranata/male single and Eddy Hartono-Rudy Gunawan/male double), and 1 bronze (Hermawan Susanto/male single).

Four medals from Atlanta 1996. One gold (Ricky Subagja-Rexy Mainaky/male double), 1 silver (Mia Audina/female single), and 2 bronzes (Susi Susanti/female single and Denny Kantono-Antonius Iriantho/male double).

Three medals from Sydney 2000. One gold (Tony Gunawan-Candra Wijaya/male double) and 2 silvers (Hendrawan/male single and Tri Kusharyanto-Minarti Timur/mix double).

Three medals from Athena 2004. One gold (Taufik Hidayat/male single) and 2 bronzes (Sony Dwi Kuncoro/male single and Eng Hian-Flandy Limpele/male double).

Three medals from Beijing 2008. One gold (Markis Kido-Hendra Setiawan/male double), 1 silver (Nova Widianto-Lilyana Natsir/mix double), and 1 bronze (Maria Kristin/female single).

This brings me to another missing, link to spectatorship. I mean, declining achievement, declining spectator enthusiasm.

Once upon a time, the togetherness and militancy of Indonesian supporter was so tough. No matter the supporter of other team were greater number, we were always be the most sensational one in stadium. Singing in ensemble, screaming when thrilling, cheering even in the middle of the play. Something you can hardly find in spectacle of tennis, table tennis, beach volley game, or even badminton when it does not involve Indonesia team.

First thing to do for the Indonesian after entering the stadium was listening from where the shout that’s typically Indonesia. Then they would sit there. You know, the supporters never yell sporadically.

And what if they did not know each other? No problem. They would.

It seems like Indonesian supporter were the only mob who systematically plan everything to support their badminton players. Few men would offer themselves to direct and teach the mob the songs. Suddenly everybody was ready to light up the stadium.

My French friend was electrified by experiencing the atmosphere of such stadium himself. I actually had not known he likes badminton until he caught up by camera sitting on tribune in one of Jakarta’s badminton stadium. I was watching the match live on TV, so I recognized him.

Few days after, we met. “It was crazy!” he said in French, “Every move of Taufik Hidayat invited the cheers. Like Zinedine Zidane when showing up his skill on the field in past days. They sang, screamed. For a moment, I thought I was in soccer stadium. So uproar. Your folks … were totally insane! But I’ve been thrilled for being there.”

Yeah, me too, François.

So have the other badminton’s giants. Ask China’s coach, which team he wants to meet in final when Indonesia becomes host. You will get the obvious answer: Indonesia! The uproarious of spectators is always a challenge for strong teams. Moreover, I think this hullabaloo things makes badminton game more interesting, more selling.

What can I say. I just hope Indonesian militancy and “heroism” badminton culture won’t lessen. For the popularity of this sport too. *