Watching A-League A La Sydneysider

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Courtesy of Eny Wulandari

I hate to say this, but Westeners, particularly Sydneysiders, taught me a lot to be a good football spectator on November 30, 2013. Actually, my first purpose of going to Sydney was watching Ale playing for Sydney FC on that day. I thought this could be the first and the last chance for me to see him being on the pitch, scoring goals, etc. So, the fact that I did take a picture with him after a regular training one day prior to that game was really a bonus. Getting his signature for my jersey was an extra gift. What’s the use of getting his picture and signature without watching him playing on the field? I could follow him around the world to get his picture or signature but witness his skills on the pitch as a professional player would be a very priceless experience. Ever.

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the ticket

It should be easy for me to reach Allianz Stadium on that sunny Saturday afternoon from Central Station. Just one bus ride and I could save lots of money. But reality turned out to be so messy. So, I was planning to visit Featherdale Wildlife Park before going to the stadium but I spent a lot of time updating news (yep, I was still working even when I was there). Then, I went to Kingsford to seek for Indonesian food. These two activities took up all the day. When I wanted to visit the zoo, the remaining time was very limited. I still went to the Central Station though and underwent about one hour trip via train up to the Blacktown station. All I needed was taking one bus from the station to the park. But when I reached the Blacktown station the time was almost 4 p.m while the zoo would be closed one hour later. So, I canceled my plan to meet penguins at the zoo then took a train ride back at the Central Station. I wasted US$10 for this fruitless visit.

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The time was almost 5 p.m. when I returned to the Central Station. In order not to get late to the stadium, I took a cab. Almost US$12 for this short trip. If you go to Sydney, try to avoid taking a taxi as this public transportation is soooo expensive, especially at nights.

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one of the welcoming statues in front of the stadium

Allianz Stadium is quite small if compared to Bung Karno Stadium. There were bunch of spectators waiting outside the stadium complex when I reached the place. The ticket box wasn’t opened yet. I was wearing Ale’s number 10 Sydney FC jersey to appreciate his new club despite the fact I prefer to wear his black-and-white jersey. I went inside the football club’s official merchandise store that was located outside the stadium. I didn’t buy any of the stuff sold in the store, including Ale original jersey because it is so pricey.. even Ale hat is so expensive..

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I was wondering if I could enter the stadium with all stuff that I was taking. I was bringing food that I had bought from one restaurant in Kingsford. Then I was carrying tripod along with a pocket camera. Then, I put a lot of goods into a backpack I was taking all the way when I was in Sydney. With my hands full of stuff, I was doubtful if authorities allowed me to take them all in. Recent experiences when I watched Arsenal and Chelsea Tour in Jakarta caused me to get prepared if they confiscated my goods, especially the food.

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To my surprise, the officials were so kind. When the gate was opened, I did not line up to get into the stadium. They only took a glance at my bag and did not ask anything related with the food or the camera. That was so wonderful! After I was permitted to get into the complex, I straightly went to the gate where which I would watch the match. And again, I was amazed with their professionalism. Unlike in Jakarta where there are officials who will check your tickets, all I need to do is get my ticked scanned via an automatic machine. Only two officers who supervised the process in the gate. They didn’t check the ticket. And they were so kind and trusted me a lot. My ticket was successfully scanned but as the guy in front of me had trouble passing through the machine my ticket couldn’t be scanned for the second time. I was a bit panick then I explained to the officer that my ticket was valid. Again, I was so happy that he trusted me then asked me to take another route without facing any questions regarding the ticket. Thanks God….

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As I entered the field complex, I was mesmerized. I always love being in a stadium. There is always a sense of magic each time I go inside a stadium, especially football field. The stadium is clean, neat and nice. How happy I was in there. I could not imagine if one day I can make it to the Juventus stadium. That will be so fantastic! As I arrived, few spectators were in the stadium. The match against Newcastle Jets would start in about one hour or so but the stadium was still a bit empty. Then, one by one came in.

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I was fascinated with what I saw on that afternoon. Soccer in Australia, especially in Sydney, is indeed a family entertainment. In front of my row was a family consists of some boys who continuously supported the home team. They were accompanied by some adults and conveniently eating food during the game. Older spectators brought hot tea or burger while watching the match. They really enjoyed the match and watched their words. They did complaints for the referee’s decisions but did not act violently. Even the Cove, the home team’s hardliners, did manage their behavior very well. I really love this kind of sport entertainment where all spectators, regardless their age, can enjoy the game without being afraid of getting involved in vandalism. This is a long way to go for Indonesian football as there are still many fans act brutally when their team is defeated. Making soccer as a safe and friendly entertainment place for children is still far away. This fact leads me to understand on why Ale loves taking Sydney FC’s offer: involving children in soccer program.

IMG_0233Seat 19, Row K, Gate K

Although I met Ale before the game, I was overjoyed when he first entered the pitch for a quick warming-up session. I couldn’t tell you how happy I was at that time for eventually being able to see him playing. This had been my long, very long dream when he was still at Juventus. And just like what I saw during the training, he preferred to do some relaxations all by himself while his teammates practiced together. Again, I learned Ale is an individualist. And I believe, this is for his own perfection. He admits this attitude in his book ‘Playing On.’ As the warming up session was over, he and other Sydney FC and Newcastle Jets players went to the changing room while the giant board introduced the player names of the clubs. It felt a bit funny when the giant board showed Ale’s full name along with the name of hometown: Alessandro Del Piero, San Vendemiano (to be exact is Saccon di San Vendemiano). How he loves his hometown!

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The first half of the match belonged to the guest team. Newcastle Jets aggressively attacked the home team, leaving Sydney FC players defended their home net. So, I did not see Ale attacking the guest team let alone showing his tongue out after scoring goals. He practically walked around the field while occasionally going down to protect the defense. He looked stressfull during the match, probably because Sydney FC did not perform well in the first half. Plus, there were some unnecessary errors that gave chances for Newcastle Jets to score goals. I also saw Ale looked disappointed with the referee’s decisions. He rarely got a chance to tear down Newcastle Jets’ net.

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The best yet the worst part occurred when the game entered its 40th minute as Ale got a good ball. Just when he was about to organize an attack, he got injured! DAMN! At first, I tought he was fine but after a few minutes he went to his coach. He asked for a replacement. SHIT! It was an anticlimax for my visit: watching him playing for about 40 minutes with almost no dangerous attack from the captain. Anyway, the home team won 2-0.

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I was so sad. I kept thinking how unfortunate I was for not seeing him scoring goals. This sorrow lasted for two days when I failed to see him for the second time on Monday. But well… no one would know, not even me or Ale, that he would get injured on that day. That had been a destiny. Until now, I still wish I can have one more chance to see him again playing in the pitch. But I am still grateful. I really am.

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Ale was pulled out from the pitch due to injury

Hatiku Hanya Mengenal Hitam dan Putih

Juventus 3D-sumber gambar www.fm-base.co.uk

sumber gambar: http://www.fm-base.co.uk

Aku tergelitik ingin mengamini pernyataan Ale dalam bukunya ‘Playing On.’ “Ingatlah ini hanya permainan, Alex. Maksudku, aku tahu sepakbola tak sekadar permainan, dalam profesi dan hidupku, tetapi aku juga paham betul bahwa sepakbola tetap saja adalah hanya permainan.” Demikian ungkap batin Ale dalam bukunya tadi.

Terkadang aku juga berpikir mengapa ya aku hingga sekarang bela-belain bangun dini hari demi menonton Juventus. Bahkan, hal tergila baru saja aku lakukan: buang uang puluhan juta demi bertemu Ale di Sydney. Sulit bagiku untuk menjelaskan kepada beberapa teman atau kenalan yang terkejut saat aku berkata aku menghabiskan banyak uang demi Ale. Ada yang tetap kaget saat aku bilang aku ke sana demi Ale, namun ada pula yang langsung memaklumi mengapa aku mempunyai alasan yang tepat.

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foto koleksi pribadi

Ini sama susahnya menanggapi komentar beberapa teman yang mengutarakan pertanyaan retorik: mengapa tidak dikasih saja satu pemain bola itu satu bola daripada mati-matian mereka hanya memperebutkan satu bola? Kalau sudah urusan cinta dan gengsi, berapa pun dan apa pun akan terasa wajar meski menurut banyak orang akan terdengar kurang kerjaan dan buang-buang uang.

Hmmm… urusan logis dan tak logis menurutku relatif. Tetapi, faktanya, sepakbola memang urusan yang luar biasa. Untuk yang Ale bilang sekadar permainan ini, banyak orang bisa mabuk atau gila karenanya. Contohnya ya aku ini. Dan ada banyak Juventini atau penggemar bola lain yang jauh lebih fanatik. Itulah mengapa Real Madrid rela merogoh kocek hingga triliuan rupiah demi seorang Gareth Bale. Atau Paris Saint-Germain harus bersiap membayar pajak fantastis sebagai akibat membeli Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

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foto koleksi pribadi

Hingga laga ke-1000 sekalipun, Juve Vs Inter Milan pasti akan tetap menarik. Real Madrid Vs Barcelona akan tetap bisa menyedot media di seluruh dunia. Lagi-lagi, ini urusan hati bung. Langganan TV kabel pun akan dilakukan demi bisa menonton tim kesayangan.

Hubunganku dengan Juventus dimulai secara tidak sengaja dan sengaja. Tidak sengaja karena pada saat itu ayah membelikanku tabloid BOLA dengan sampul Zinedine Zidane. Inti dari artikel saat itu adalah keputusan Zidane yang memperpanjang kontraknya dengan Si Nyonya Tua. Yang membuatku penasaran bukanlah Zidane tetapi Juve. Inilah yang lalu aku sebut dengan kesengajaan. Karena aku memang sengaja ingin menonton Juve demi membuktikan rasa penasaranku. Begitu melihat Juve bermain, aku langsung jatuh cinta dan terus aku pupuk hingga saat ini. Ada semacam klik antara aku dan Juve yang sulit digambarkan. Yang pasti aku menyukai Juve karena klub ini bukan klub yang gemar membeli pemain super mahal. Entah karena persoalan uang atau apa, yang pasti aku menyukai ciri Juve yang satu ini. Aspek kedua aku cocok dengan sistem pertahanan berlapis baja a la Juve. Mungkin ini dinilai sebagai sepakbola negatif tetapi bagiku aku menyukainya. Ini adalah sifat khas Juve yang harus tetap dipertahankan meski berganti pelatih. Itu hanyalah dua dari banyak hal yang membuatku tak kan pernah pindah hati ke lain tim.

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foto koleksi pribadi

Sejak aku mencintai Juventus, ayahku seringkali memperingatkanku agar berhati-hati dengan fanatismeku. Dan yang beliau sampaikan sangat beralasan. Selama sekitar 17 tahun menjadi seorang Juventini, aku menyaksikan diriku sendiri berkembang dan belajar menjadi seorang pendukung yang baik. Tanpa kusadari, pengalamanku menemani Juve saat menang dan kalah banyak mengajariku tentang cara menyikapi kegagalan dan keberhasilan secara benar.

Waktu remaja, aku adalah penggemar Juve yang sangat emosional dan fanatik. Letupan emosi saat Juve menang atau stres luar biasa saat ia kalah hampir jadi santapan jiwa setiap akhir pekan. Jika Juve memang tentunya senang bukan kepalang. Tetapi, jika kalah aku bisa malu luar biasa setiap Senin pagi saat teman-teman memperolok atau menyindir Juve. Rasanya, ingin melewatkan hari itu dengan bersembunyi di bawah kolong meja saja. Dan aku sangat membenci Inter Milan. Pemain yang paling membuatku sebal adalah Ronaldo dan Francesco Totti. Aku juga sangat membenci AS Roma dan Lazio. Benci yang sebenarnya benci sampai mengeluarkan sumpah serapah. Hal paling menyedihkan saat itu adalah saat Juve harus kalah dari Lazio dalam perebutan scudetto dalam menit-menit akhir gara-gara hujan yang mengepung lapangan tempat Juve bertanding sehingga gagal menang. Lazio yang akhirnya saat itu keluar jadi scudetto pada musim 1999/2000.

juve skuat 1999-2000-sumber gambar web.tiscali.it

Juventus musim 1999/2000
sumber foto: web.tiscali.it

Aku juga sangat tidak terima banyak temanku yang menganggap Totti lebih baik dari Ale. Atau bahwa Ronaldo akan membawa Inter juara musim. Kenyataannya, Ale jauh lebih terkenal dan bisa membuat Juve juara meski harganya kalah jauh dari Ronaldo. Saking cintanya aku terhadap Juve, aku sebal sekali jika ada teman yang menjelek-jelekkan Juve meski mungkin maksudnya hanya bercanda.

Hal terparah yang aku lakukan adalah aku pernah menangis di pekarangan belakang rumah gara-gara Italia dipecundangi Korea Selatan pada Piala Dunia 2002. Aku stres sekali karena Italia benar-benar dicurangi oleh wasit saat itu. Bisa dibilang itu adalah puncak fanatismeku saat remaja.

Selama 17an tahun, aku tak selalu sreg dengan keputusan yang dibuat oleh Juve. Aku masih ingat aku pernah sangat marah saat Juve banyak membeli pemain Prancis, seperti Lilian Thuram dan David Trezequet, setelah keduanya berhasil membawa Prancis mengalahkan Italia dalam final Piala Eropa 2000. Bagaimana mungkin Juve membeli pemain-pemain itu? Tetapi perlahan, aku mulai memahami arah kebijakan Juve dan kesamaan kami yakni ingin menjadi yang terbaik membuatku akhirnya bisa menerima keputusan Juve. Pun demikian saat Juve tidak memperpanjang kontrak Ale. Aku sangat kecewa tetapi ya mau bagaimana lagi. Keinginanku ingin melihat Juve tetap tumbuh mengalahkan rasa kecewaku. Pelan tapi pasti, aku masih tetap mencintai Juve sembari tetap menyayangi Ale meski dia nun jauh bermain untuk Sydney FC. Rasanya seperti membagi dua cinta yang sama besar kepada dua orang yang berbeda.

Tetapi jangan salah ya. Hingga sekarang aku tetap kurang suka sama Trezequet meski dia banyak membuat gol untuk Juve dan adalah tandem pas untuk Ale. Hingga sekarang pun aku tetap membenci Zidane karena memecahkan rekor pemain termahal saat ia pindah ke Madrid meski di Juve dia sangat berperan besar sebagai otak serangan kala itu. Rentang waktu 17an tahun menjadi Juventini membuatku akrab dengan pergantian pemain dan pelatih. Dari sekian banyak wajah, favoritku tentu saja era akhir 1990an. Duet maut Filippo Inzaghi dan Alessandro Del Piero akan selalu menjadi yang terbaik di hatiku sampai kapan pun. Pelatih favoritku tentu saja Marcello Lippi. Skuat yang akan selalu kuimpikan ya zaman Angelo Peruzzi, Antonio Conte, Angelo Di Livio, Paolo Montero, Zinedine Zidane, Alessio Tacchinardi, Didier Deschamps, dll.

Semakin bertambah usia kini aku mencintai dan menikmati Juve dan sepakbola secara lebih logis. Tak ada lagi emosi berlebihan seperti dulu. Aku juga tak begitu stres saat Juve kalah. Tiada lagi puluhan poster besar yang menghiasi dinding kamarku. Yang tersisa kini hanya beberapa potongan koran dan tabloid tentang wajah Pippo, Ale, Juve, juga tim nasional Italia. Potongan gambar tersebut kini sudah lusuh dan jelek tetapi hingga kapan pun tak akan pernah aku sobek atau buang.

Meski secara fisik aku tak terlihat mengoleksi barang-barang berbau Juventus, aku merasa justru rasa sayangku semakin menggila. Sensasi menikmati gocekan bola pemain Juventus kini jauh lebih berasa. Aku juga heran dengan ini semua karena aku tak setiap hari mengikuti perkembangan berita soal Juve atau Ale karena kesibukanku. Tetapi aku malah tak segan mengeluarkan banyak uang demi mewujudkan mimpi masa remaja, yang meski terkadang aku lupa atau tinggalkan, tetap melambai-lambai ingin tetap diwujudkan. Tahun ini Alhamdulillah sudah bisa bertemu dengan Ale, Insya Alloh tak lama lagi bisa ke Turin, amiiiin.

Aku sendiri bersyukur mengenal dan mencintai Juve dan Ale. Bagi banyak orang mungkin akan terdengar sepele tetapi aku banyak belajar tentang mimpi dari menyayangi mereka. Awalnya hanya sekadar ingin ke Turin untuk menonton langsung tetapi lama kelamaan aku jadi ingin melihat dunia. Dan untuk bisa mewujudkannya tentu aku harus belajar dan bekerja keras. Selama masa belajar dan kerja keras itu aku menimba banyak ilmu tentang hidup dan pertemanan yang semakin menguatkanku untuk tak pernah malu atau ragu dalam mengejar mimpiku. Aku juga semakin bisa menerima kekalahan. Dulu yang terasa sangat pahit dan suka menyalahkan pihak luar sekarang berubah menjadi introspeksi diri. Dalam kehidupan pribadi, hal tersebut sangat terasa. Belajar menerima kekurangan dan terus mencari tantangan sebagai pondasi untuk terus belajar.

Mungkin yang aku rasakan juga dirasakan oleh ribuan Madridista, Milanisti, atau bahkan (malas menyebut ini) Internisti. Untuk urusan ini, aku sepakat dengan mereka. Rasa cinta, fanatisme bisa memberi motivasi yang luar biasa. Mungkin bagi pebisnis olahraga, inilah yang menjadi ‘komoditas’ untuk menjadikan cabang olahraga ini sebagai ladang mengeruk keuntungan sebesar-besarnya. Terserah orang bilang apa. Tetapi bagiku, dan mungkin bagi penggila bola yang lain tak peduli apa klub kesayangan kami masing-masing, bisa merasakan emosi senang atau sedih karena tim kesayangan menang atau kalah; mengumpat-umpat wasit atau tim lawan; teriak di tengah malam atau dini hari, adalah hiburan tiada duanya. Mungkin bagi banyak orang hal tersebut terlihat konyol tetapi bagiku itulah yang membuat hidupku terasa sangat indah…

juventus stadium-sumber gambar wikimapia.org

Juventus stadium.
Sumber gambar: wikimapia.org