Athletes Receive Cash Boost From State Firms to Prepare for Major Events

Indonesian athletes received a much-needed boost as the State-Owned Enterprises Ministry signed an agreement with the National Sports Committee to fund their preparation for upcoming multi-sport events, including the Southeast Asian Games to be hosted in Myanmar at the end of this year.

Under the terms of the agreement, 51 state-owned companies, or more than double the number involved in 2012, have committed themselves to working closely with 217 selected sportsmen and women to support their training and preparations ahead of local and international events.

Each company will allocate Rp 7.5 million ($656) per month per athlete taking part in national training camps in order to prepare for events like the SEA Games this year and in 2015, the 2014 Asian Games (to be held in Incheon, South Korea) and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

This agreement replaces a similar undertaking that folded earlier this year when the ministry ended its financial support of national sports federations.

“It costs a lot of money to get athletes to prepare for major sporting events,” said Tono Suratman, the chairman of the National Sports Committee (KONI).

“That is why we are looking for more financial support from other sources.

“We really do appreciate the commitment of the SOEs to the nation’s athletes. The money will go straight to the athletes and I hope the extra funding will help our people become more competitive at international events,” Tono added.

A senior official at the ministry, Bagus Sumbogo, said that not all SOEs were able to contribute because some of them did not make much money.

“Some of the companies earn big profits and obviously they are able to help out without too much effort, but some don’t, so are unable to help,” he said.

Athletes were quick to show their appreciation but warned that competing at the Olympics would require much a larger investment. Eko Yuli Irawan, a weight-lifter who won bronze medals at the Beijing and London Games, said he appreciated the funding initiative.

“I’ve had to use my savings to support my wife and my baby daughter, since my salary hasn’t been paid in three months,” he said.

“With this support, I hope it can ease our burden, at least during the SEA Games preparation. But if it is also meant to support us for the Olympics without any additional financial support, I don’t think it will be enough.

“Based on our experience, preparing for the Olympics can cost double and needs more intensive preparation.”