On Last Night’s Game

It’s been years I didn’t sing the national anthem. And even back then, I often sang it in false tunes, while giggling with friends during the flag ceremony every Monday morning. Last night, when I watched the national team singing “Indonesia Raya” and some players cry, I could feel the shiver. I sang it with my whole heart and, no kidding, almost shed tears.

I was with hundreds others that night in an eating place in Yogyakarta. It was not my first time to watch football in a public place but I saw Indonesia’s games only at home or at a friend’s house before.

Each of us knew that winning the cup would be heavy after suffering the 3-0 defeat in Malaysia. It did not hold us back, though. We shared the same agenda, supporting our football heroes in the final game of the AFF 2010 Tournament no matter what.

No less enthusiastic than those watching live, people crowded the venue full-spirited. I saw on TV that Gelora Bung Karno (GBK) Stadium was covered in red but it was the same red as everyone’s T-shirt’s around me.

As the game got underway, a fellow next to me kept shouting as loud as could be for our players. It was fun to see him. He screamed, praised the players, cursed them, jumped and clapped hands, threw his hat towards the big screen. He was very lively throughout the match, from right before the kick-off.

I thought that man lost himself. He did not realize the players couldn’t hear him. This guy barely gave a damn about other people laughing at him, including me.

Then, I recognized what was happening. Something magical was going on. I am aware that this sounds like a cliché, but that time we really didn’t care about religion, race, job, our favorite football club. Nothing divided us and there was indeed a wonderful feeling when we were standing there as one. When Malaysia scored, we mourned together and jollied up one another. When Indonesia hit the net, we cheered in concert.

For a man whose patriotism has been wearing off like me, it was a kind of turning point. I started to admire the man I mention earlier, for having something I didn’t for years: flaming patriotism and optimism for our country.

I thought he was crazy and I was sane enough to be a realist. But then being a realist may lead us to becoming a pessimist. I guess this was what went wrong with my self. I used to be a fan of the Argentina National Team rather than my own country’s.

This morning, on Twitter I read @bepe20 said, “We did not win the cup, but I hope we win the hearts of Indonesians” and @arifsuyono tweeted something like, “I saw peddlers and the (country’s) leaders smiling together in the stadium. I will miss that brotherhood (that I witnessed) in GBK.” I’ve also  been informed that the supporters were remarkable–totally zealous yet self-controlled–before, during, and after the game (I heard it was the security staff that turned violent towards some people).

Not winning the cup is one thing.  There are others like playing good football and having fantastic supporters. I think that we have those things is really great and an achievement already. I couldn’t help feeling proud of being Indonesian.

The game carried me away. It was a nice moment and I’m happy that today I woke up sounding a bit hoarse.

P.S. Okay, I exaggerate things a little. The truth is I simply rediscover my love for Indonesia. So, thanks to Timnas I guess :)

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