Sunday, February 25, 2024 | 05:42 WIB

“Focus on quality-tiered competitions after the U-17 World Cup”

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Ferril Raymond Hattu, former national soccer player

Jakarta, IO – Indonesia is flooded with the euphoria of the 2023 U-17 World Cup, especially in the four host cities: Jakarta, Bandung, Solo and Surabaya. Indonesian youngsters and adolescents are entertained by the U-17 World Cup matches; some even watched them live at the stadium with their parents, teachers or coaches. 

Former captain of the Indonesian national soccer team Ferril Raymond Hattu appreciated this phenomenon as a positive value from hosting the U-17 World Cup. He believed the 2023 U-17 World Cup has etched an iconic moment for Indonesia. 

Indonesian children finally get the experience and opportunity to play at a global level, while millions of others can watch the U-17 World Cup from such a proximity. It is a rare experience to watch the World Cup at a young age in one’s own country. 

“The U-17 World Cup clearly brings positive points for Indonesia, for children in particular. It can stimulate their dreams for the future. It may not be visible now, but let’s see what comes about in the next five or seven years,” said Ferril. 

Ferril, who led the Indonesian team to a gold medal at the 1991 SEA Games, said that Indonesia has been successful in hosting the 2023 U-17 World Cup. Although a few problems arose, in general, the event went without a major hitch. 

“In terms of organization, we did excellently. Indonesia is capable of holding world-class events. The next question is related to what we should learn from the soccer games,” he said. 

Ferril admitted that Indonesia had a lot to learn. “Skill-wise, Indonesian children are not inferior. But in terms of technique and tactical awareness, the gap is wide,” said Ferril. 

“Therefore, the Federation must move on from the euphoria of holding the U-17 World Cup. It must develop a structured and well-organized coaching system so that our players’ technical, physical, mental and tactical skills will be on par with others,” he added. 

Ferril urged the Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI) to take soccer competitions seriously. It is also important to consider tiered competitions by age group, not limited to professional competitions. 

The regeneration of the Indonesian national team is always based on age group, with children starting from soccer school. Therefore, they should have the opportunity to compete according to their age group. 

Currently, Indonesia has an Elite Pro Academy (EPA), which accommodates three age group competitions: U-16, U-18 and U-20. 

Regrettably, graduating players often find it difficult to find a place after they are no longer in the junior age group. 

“Let’s take a look at the EPA. Do the children get a proper place to increase their playtime? They may be able to compete in skills, but in technique and physicality, we need a lot of improvement,” said Ferril. 

“I hope the Federation won’t stop here. It must prepare for the future. After the World Cup, focus on creating quality-tiered competitions,” he said. 

Ferril noted that the 2023 U-17 World Cup focused on developing youth football and reminded PSSI not to forget its duty to regenerate players. 

Read: “Athletes Uphold The Nation’s Reputation And Inspire A Future Generation”

Indonesian soccer has started to gain in the international spotlight, and Ferril hoped it could be utilized to further develop national soccer from an early age. 

“Erick Thohir (PSSI Chairman) is the right figure at PSSI; he has close relations with FIFA. Exco (PSSI) should take advantage of this to develop Indonesian youth soccer,” said Ferril. 

“Without a sustainable program, Indonesian soccer will remain stagnant – void of progress. Meanwhile, the Indonesian national team will need a new generation to compete at the international level,” he said. (rp)

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