Journey to the Bronze Medal

Posted: 23/11/2011 in Indonesia, Travel
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

[This is a backdated post.]

Football has always been an important part of my life. I recall the memory I supported Myanmar national football team since I was 6, yes freaking 6! And I remember we could not finish talking about how and why we had been defeated on the next day at school with our homeroom teacher. So, when we heard that there would be Myanmar team playing for 26th SEAGames in Jakarta, we were very willing to go and support them.

Myanmar Vs Malaysia

Myanmar national team before semifinal with Malaysia.

After some conversation in a Facebook group dedicated for those who were interested to go to Jakarta from Singapore, we bought Air Asia tickets and felt so ready. Our trip was smooth as a very very kind Myanmar (who had not known as before that Facebook group was created) living in Jakarta helped us a lot. Thanks Ko Kyaw Thu Soe Naing for all your kind help. He waited us at airport, got a taxi for us communicating with the driver in Bahasa and even noted down the driver name and taxi no. When we left the airport, he was waiting for another group with Tiger Air.

Than Toe Aung, the awesome team captain in Silver era of Myanmar football.

Than Toe Aung, the awesome team captain in Silver era of Myanmar football.

The exciting part of this trip apart from the football matches itself was having a chance to meet with famous former football players from Silver era of Myanmar football. (In Golden era, I have heard that Myanmar has beaten Germany. Germany! And yes, that was like a fair tale for us, younger generation. In Silver era, we still won some titles in SEAsia or so. Don’t ask me what is current era for Myanmar football if you consider me as a friend!) The former players came together with current players as member of coach team and/or observers for next SEAGames in Myanmar. And of course, as there were only very few Myanmar supporting the team, we had chance to chit chat with team manager, secretary of Football Federation etc. And that was awesome.

They got us the match tickets (for free!). So on the match day of Semi-final (Malaysia Vs. Myanmar), we went to Gelora Bung Karno Stadium on our own which was our HUGE mistake. Our ticket was just a normal one that we were not allowed to enter the gate where most of Myanmar people were sitting which was VVIP stand. We begged some ushers to let us enter but they denied. We had like no clue how to continue. I mean, who would want to sit separately in a football match when you know that there are not more than 50 supporters for the team you are supporting?? I guess we run among three or four different gates back and forth. And finally, we kept on saying that we were Myanmar and there were only few Myanmar and they were sitting at that VVIP gate and a security officer did allow us to enter!!

So, once we sat down and we started complaining to media officer on how tiring it was to run from gate to gate, he asked for our names. I was like “What for!?”. Then he gave us USD200 each. Wow! I did not expect it at all. That could cover our flight fares + accommodation. He said that was given by president of Myanmar Football Federation just to appreciate who had decided to spend own money and time to come down and cheer the team. We did think twice to accept it as he was assumed as one of the cronies who had big business in Myanmar. But we thought it would be too rude not to accept it (and it was so tempting as you can see). So we just nodded our heads and happily received USD200.

U Zaw Zaw, president of Myanmar Football Federation and Myo Hlaing Win, the former star player during silver era of Myanmar football.

U Zaw Zaw, president of Myanmar Football Federation and Myo Hlaing Win, the former star player during silver era of Myanmar football.

Football stadium Jakarta Indonesia

Lovely Reds, on the pavement of stadium.

And we lost. A reliable player was injured and minutes after it, we had to give a goal although our goalkeeper was superb. There I learnt losing was not always a bad thing. Can you imagine what would happen if we went to final (with Indonesia!?)

Jakarta Indonesia SEAGame Football Crowd

Crowd waiting for final match of Indonesia Vs. Malaysia.

Yes, I was thankful that I would not need to squeeze into GIANT crowd. In Indonesia, not only men and youths but also a whole bunch of family ranging from grandma to toddler came to support their national team. Knowing that we would still have a match with Vietnam for third place, we went back to hotel.

As we had already learnt a lesson for first match, we tried to get VVIP ticket before another match started. In fact, we joined the coach team members and other observers to go to the stadium together on the same bus. And that was fun. I even met with two uncles who were around 70 years old who went to every SEAGames to support Team Myanmar. I was not sure if I could do the same thing at their age.

Match with Vietnam was pure fun. We all sat together and cheered the team. And my mom, relatives and friends saw me on TV as they were watching live broadcast as well. They told me I had looked so unsatisfied although I thought I had been super happy throughout the match. We won with 4-1. And yes, we got at least a bronze medal.

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