New Indonesian Badminton Assoc. Chief to Inherit Program in Decline
Wimbo Satwiko & Sandy Pramuji
Whoever is elected as the new chairman of the Indonesian Badminton Association will face the uphill task of revamping development of the sport, which was once the pride of the nation, many observers have agreed.
The association, known as PBSI, will hold a convention in Yogyakarta beginning on Thursday, with one item on the meeting’s agenda being the election of a new chairman to replace Djoko Santoso, who opted not to seek a third four-year term.
Djoko has been under fire, especially after the country’s shuttlers failed to win a single medal from the Olympics, coming home empty-handed from London last month for the first time since 1992.
Scandal also tainted Indonesian badminton as women’s doubles team Greysia Polii and Meiliana Jauhari, with two South Korean pairs and a Chinese double, were disqualified from the London Games for intentionally playing poorly in pool matches to secure an easier quarterfinal draw.
The country used to be a badminton juggernaut, with its shuttlers dominating on the international stage, but the turn of the century has brought a marked declined in Indonesia’s achievements.
The Indonesian team has also failed to win the Thomas Cup — the men’s team world championship — since 2002, while the women’s team’s last victory in the Uber Cup was back in 1996.
The country’s shuttlers have also been struggling in individual tournaments.
Given the decline, the PBSI convention, scheduled from Thursday to Saturday, will be closely watched by badminton fans, and candidates for the chairmanship will be under the spotlight.
PBSI has announced that the registration deadline for candidacies is today. As of Monday, there were only two candidates on the list: badminton legend Icuk Sugiarto and Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan.
Gita has been touted as the frontrunner, with his camp claiming that 27 of 33 PBSI members will support him in the race.
“I’m ready to lead PBSI and if there’s concern [as to] whether I have time for PBSI, I will spend my time for PBSI. I’m committed 100 percent to bringing Indonesia back to its golden era,” he said on Monday.
The minister doesn’t have any known ties to badminton previously.
Gita said he’s been learning about the state of Indonesia’s badminton from Djoko and other prominent figures in the sport.
“In our discussions, we talked much about the strengths and weaknesses of current [PBSI] management. The big idea of the new term is to improve everything and perfect it. Nothing’s perfect, neither am I, but we have to have the spirit of making everything perfect,” Gita said.
However, he declined to reveal a specific program or action plan that he would take if elected.
“I don’t think it’s the proper time to reveal the action plan. I don’t want to precede anything or anybody because the election will be held in the next few days,” he said.
The Indonesia Badminton Community, whose members are legendary shuttlers, gave its support to the minister. Though it doesn’t have a vote at the convention, the IBC’s influence is significant.
“We support Gita Wirjawan to take the leadership from Djoko Santoso because, after talking with him, we know he’s the right person to lead the PBSI,” said group leader Tan Joe Hok, the first Indonesian to win the All England in 1959.
Meanwhile, Icuk said he’s ready to fight for the chairmanship.
“They claim 27 members will back Gita and I know he also met with the former greats. But that won’t deter me,” said the 1983 men’s singles world champion.