It is no secret that Indonesians are crazy about football. But have you ever heard of an expat who is crazy about Indonesian football? Meet Antony Sutton, who discovered his love for the local leagues after moving to Jakarta. In his recently published book “Sepakbola - The Indonesian Way of Life”, he takes a closer look at the country’s football culture, based on his own experience.
Antony’s passion for football started at a young age - he is an avid supporter of London-based club Arsenal FC. In the 1990s, he lived in Bangkok for several years where he worked as a teacher and then decided to move to Jakarta in 2002.
“One year later, I met a woman who told me that we were going to get married someday, and I have been here ever since,” he recalls. “I have always enjoyed writing since I was young. I wanted to do something beyond my teaching job, and so I focused on writing.”
Antony first thought he could write about English football, since there are many die-hard fans of the EPL in Indonesia, but he quickly realized that “there are already millions of sites about English football.”
That’s when he first thought about creating a blog dedicated to Indonesian football.
“There were only two problems,” he says, laughing. “One, I can’t speak Indonesian. Two, I don’t have any clue about Indonesian football. This all changed though when I was sitting with my wife in a bar in Jakarta, and she received a message about a riot going on in [the football stadium] Bung Karno.”
This piqued Antony’s interest, and soon after, the unthinkable happened - instead of hanging out at a local pub over a couple of beers, he decided to go to the stadium to watch a football game.
“It was like entering a different world,” he says. The rest, as they say, is history.
Antony started his blog JakartaCasual in 2006 - mostly from the armchair - and the first year was all about learning as much about Indonesian football as possible.
“After that, I started traveling to the different clubs and places,” Antony explains. “People who read my blog started to send me messages and told me to get in touch if I should ever visit - and it was not only football fans, but also coaches and players.”
A foreigner watching an Indonesian football match is of course a rare sight, and Antony quickly became known in the local scene. Over the years, he has seen it all: countless games, riots, a lot of chaos - but also an unparalleled raw passion for the sport.
“It’s crazy what happened in the last couple of years, two leagues, two national treams preparing for the same tournament, two players’ unions run by best friends but with very different agendas - I’m not in the middle of it, I’m on the outside looking in, chronicling it,” he says. “But there are also a lot of times when fans work together to ensure that there are no riots, to act as peacemakers - these are stories we never hear about.”
His book, therefore, mostly became about the Indonesian people who despite everything still love their local league and favourite clubs.
“My plan was to write a football 101 book in English, and hopefully have it translated into Indonesian, but now it is the other way around,” he says, adding that he was quite overwhelmed by the positive response he has received so far. But there is no rest for the wicked: Antony is already planning to write his second book. Therefore, stay tuned!
Win a free copy of “Sepakbola - The Indonesian Way of Life”
If you would like to get your hands on this already sold out book, send an email to [email protected] until April 21 and tell us which local football club you support and why!