Sport turns to po­lice boot camp to re­verse de­cline Of­fi­cers putting play­ers through their paces in bid to catch up with neigh­bors

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

JAMBI, In­done­sia — A po­lice boot camp com­plete with shoot­ing lessons may not seem like a nat­u­ral train­ing ground for sports­man­ship, but In­done­sia’s sepak takraw team is hop­ing that mil­i­tarystyle dis­ci­pline will help them achieve sport­ing glory.

The sport, which com­bines el­e­ments of foot­ball and vol­ley­ball, is na­tive to South­east Asia but the re­gion’s big­gest coun­try has long lagged be­hind its smaller neigh­bors in the bat­tle for dom­i­nance.

Now the coun­try’s top play­ers have taken the un­usual step of “em­bed­ding” with an elite po­lice unit on Su­ma­tra is­land, where a crack team of of­fi­cers are help­ing the 15 male and fe­male ath­letes get into shape by over­see­ing ex­er­cise ses­sions.

“This is the per­fect place for them to train,” In­done­sian sepak takraw chief As­nawi Rah­man said about the de­ci­sion to send the team to Jambi in mid-March, ahead of the South­east Asian Games in Au­gust.

“They can get men­tally and phys­i­cally pre­pared,” he said.

The play­ers are train­ing with the Mo­bile Brigade, the po­lice’s special op­er­a­tions unit which is in­volved in coun­tert­er­ror­ism and riot con­trol.

While the of­fi­cers can of­fer lit­tle in the way of sepak takraw ex­per­tise, the team can pick up skills such as fir­ing weapons, which the ex­perts in the game believe helps to fo­cus the play­ers’ minds.

The cen­turies-old sport was orig­i­nally played with a grape­fruit-sized ball fash­ioned from straps of rat­tan with 12 holes.

It was tra­di­tion­ally played with two teams of three fac­ing each other on a court about the same size as a badminton court, with a raised net. Play­ers kick and head the ball, which is now made of syn­thetic fiber, over the net, but aren’t al­lowed to touch it with their hands or arms.

In re­cent years Thai­land — where sepak takraw has a big­ger fol­low­ing than in In­done­sia — has dom­i­nated the sport at re­gional tour­na­ments, while Myan­mar has also been gain­ing ground af­ter in­vest­ing money in train­ing and de­vel­op­ment.

Rah­man has called for more fund­ing and said the coun­try has fallen be­hind be­cause their play­ers are not as well pre­pared phys­i­cally and men­tally as their ri­vals.

He hopes the po­lice train­ing will make a dif­fer­ence.

The ar­range­ment in­volves sig­nif­i­cant per­sonal sac­ri­fice for the play­ers, who are forced to live a her­mit-like ex­is­tence for the five months they are at the base.

They are not al­lowed to leave the com­pound — which is closed to mem­bers of the public — at all on week­days and are only al­lowed out at week­ends ac­com­pa­nied by of­fi­cers.

Still, the play­ers think it’s worth it.

“I like it here, more than train­ing at pre­vi­ous places,” said Dini Mi­tasari, a 23-yearold fe­male player who is also an army of­fi­cer.

“Mo­bile Brigade of­fi­cers are highly dis­ci­plined, and they’re also highly mo­ti­vated — it af­fects us and our mo­ti­va­tion as well.”


A mem­ber of In­done­sia’s sepak takraw team per­forms an over­head kick dur­ing a train­ing ses­sion at an elite po­lice force base in Jambi, In­done­sia.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.