Sit­ting Down with Foot­ball Su­per­star Ste­fano Lili­paly

Indonesia Expat - - Content Page - BY ROGIER SCHULTZ

Foot­ball is ex­tremely pop­u­lar in In­done­sia. It's a sport that any­one can play no mat­ter how rich or poor you are. I've seen peo­ple play bare­footed, with goals made of bam­boo, on a field with no grass, us­ing a ten­nis ball. There's lit­er­ally no bar­rier that pre­vents you from play­ing the game.

The In­done­sian peo­ple are very much into the Euro­pean and world foot­ball scene. You are likely to see many neigh­bor­hood kids wear­ing Euro­pean clubs' jer­seys (orig­i­nal or fake, that's another ques­tion).

In the last cou­ple of years, In­done­sian foot­ball was at its low­est point ever. De­spite all the non­sense that has gone on in those years, the FIFA ban was the first issue that had to be re­solved. It has. Now that the league is up and run­ning, there is op­ti­mism that de­spite the often- er­ratic stan­dards off the pitch in terms of pro­fes­sion­al­ism and vi­sion, it will go from strength to strength.

This sea­son, there are sev­eral big-name for­eign sign­ings like Essien (Chelsea, Real Madrid, AC Mi­lan), Di­dier Zokora (Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur, Sevilla), Peter Odemwingie (Lille, Lok­mo­tiv Moscow, Stoke City), Carl­ton Cole (Chelsea, West Ham United, Celtic), Mi­los Kra­sic (CSKA Moscow, Ju­ven­tus, Fener­bache) and Mo­hamed Sis­soko (Va­len­cia, Liver­pool, Ju­ven­tus, Paris Saint- Ger­main). These new im­ports may be of the vet­eran va­ri­ety, but they give the league a big­ger pro­file at home and over­seas. As a re­sult, these In­done­sian stars – many of a mixed her­itage and nat­u­ral­ized In­done­sians – are com­ing ‘ back’ to the In­done­sian League.

One of these stars is na­tional team player Ste­fano Lili­paly. Lili­paly was born in the Nether­lands where he rep­re­sented the Dutch na­tional team at a youth level. With an In­done­sian fa­ther, he joined the In­done­sian na­tional side in 2013.

After spells at Dutch teams FC Utrecht, Tel­star, Cam­buur Leeuwar­den and Ja­pan’s Con­sadole Sap­poro he has signed a con­tract with Bali United. “I did spend my en­tire child­hood in the Nether­lands but my best mem­ory of In­done­sia was prob­a­bly the

AFF Cup (Asean Foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion Cup), where I scored an im­por­tant goal against Sin­ga­pore,” Lili­paly said.

From the mo­ment Bali United ap­proached Lili­paly, he was im­pressed and the talks con­firmed his next step: play­ing in In­done­sia.

“From the very first mo­ment that I started talk­ing with the peo­ple of Bali United there was a pos­i­tive mu­tual feel­ing. I dis­cussed with the peo­ple of the club my ex­pec­ta­tions and from what I see it all looks re­ally pro­fes­sional, the club is grow­ing and that is why I want to be part of it.

“The need to play in In­done­sia was get­ting stronger dur­ing the AFF Cup in 2016. After Bali United made an of­fi­cial of­fer to my for­mer club in Europe (Cam­buur Leeuwar­den), they didn’t want me to leave. I ex­plained to them my de­sire to play in In­done­sia and to live there some­day. It is nice to show my son how the In­done­sian cul­ture is and to give him the op­por­tu­nity to see where his fam­ily came from,” he said

Ger­ald van den Belt, Tech­ni­cal Di­rec­tor at Cam­buur Leeuwar­den, told Dutch press: “We did ev­ery­thing we could to keep him here, but the de­sire to play and live in In­done­sia was so strong for him and his fam­ily that we looked at the hu­man as­pect. That is why we co­op­er­ated and we are wish­ing Ste­fano and his fam­ily all the luck and suc­cess in In­done­sia.”

After the trans­fer was re­al­ized, he flew to Bali for an of­fi­cial pre­sen­ta­tion at the club. The very next day he was al­ready play­ing his first min­utes for Bali United.

“I was re­ally tired, be­cause after my flight I barely had the chance to rest. But, the at­mos­phere in the sta­dium was amaz­ing. I started on the bench so I could see the fans and they were loud! It was not easy from a phys­i­cal per­spec­tive, again I was re­ally tired, but it felt good to be on the pitch and make my first min­utes for Bali United and the most im­por­tant thing is that we won 5-2,” he said. “Be­cause the trans­fer happened pretty fast, I didn’t have the chance to sort out cer­tain things in the Nether­lands and I am also look­ing for a house here in Bali to live in with my fam­ily.”

Lili­paly will fly back to Europe for a cou­ple of days to ar­range things, see his wife, son and other loved ones and then a cou­ple of days later he hops back on a plane to con­tinue his foot­ball ca­reer here in Bali.

“The peo­ple that are in Bali, ei­ther they live here or are vis­it­ing Bali for the hol­i­days, it is worth com­ing, see and ex­pe­ri­ence the games of Bali United. We are do­ing well with the club; we are com­pet­ing in the top of the league where ev­ery­thing is pos­si­ble. At the mo­ment we are in second place, so we will work hard to be the na­tional cham­pion.”

We are do­ing well with the club; we are com­pet­ing in the top of the league where ev­ery­thing is pos­si­ble. At the mo­ment we are in second place, so we will work hard to be the na­tional cham­pion.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Indonesia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.