Tue, 18 Mar 2003

RI athletics urged to focus on grassroots

Musthofid, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Indonesian Athletics Federation (PASI) should be more focused on developing athletics at the grassroots level in a bid to improve its overall performance, an expert said Monday.

"If you want to develop sports, in this case athletics, you must start from the grassroots level," International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) coaching expert Gunter Lange said on the sidelines of a coaching seminar here.

The German is one of two lecturers speakers at the ten-day seminar, organized by the Jakarta-based Regional Development Center (RDC).

Coaches Education and Certification System (CECS) Level I Lectures Seminar began at the RDC headquarters on Sunday and will end March 25.

Thirteen participants from 11 of RDC's 19 member countries members are attending the seminar, including Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Buthan, India, Laos, Maldives, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, The Philippines and Indonesia.

The other lecturer is Fletcher McEwen of Australia.

"By increasing the number of qualified coaches, you will have a big impact on the grassroots level.

"It means the first impact you will notice will be the improvement of techniques ... improvements of performance at youth level and juniors.

"And then after some time, the wave will reach the seniors," Lange, who served with PASI as an advisor from 1993 to 1998, said.

Viewing the overall state of Indonesian athletics, Lange said PASI should reactivate its provincial chapters.

He said competitions at national level were important to sharpen skills.

"PASI is not only Jakarta, but all of Indonesia from Jayapura to Aceh. The provincial chapters must be reactivated. They have to identify problems, which are specific to each of the provinces.

"Athletics' development is a pyramid, which means the fundamentals are more important."

Lange said IAAF was committed to developing human resources in developing countries.

"Our goal is to pursue qualified local lecturers, at least one high-qualified lecturer with IAAF standards in each country."

He said sufficient availability of qualified lecturers was one key way to boost athletics' development.

Indonesia has only one IAAF-certified lecturer: Ria Lumintiarso, who is currently the director of RDC Jakarta.

Lange said Indonesia had another eight good lecturers but they were hampered by poor English skills. "Ria is the only lecturer who can speak English well," he said.

During Lange's partnership with PASI, Indonesia won seven gold medals at the 1997 Southeast Asia (SEA) Games and one at the 1998 Asian Games through long-distance runner Supriati Sutono.

However, Indonesia was whipped by Thailand and Malaysia at the 2001 SEA Games, highlighted by a loss in the athletics' disciplines which traditionally provided Indonesia with the bulk of its medals.

Lange, who worked with Thailand for four years before moving to Nepal, said the lack of facilities and an athletics' culture had attributed to the decline of Indonesian athletics.