TAN MALAKA, FATHER OF FOOTBALL LOVERS
The figure of a man with a stern face and sharp eyes stepped boldly into the football field in Bayah, Banten. Barefoot, the small man sprang into action. In the dim twilight of the city of Banten, he seemed to be dancing while playing the ball with agility and care. Dozens of spectators were amazed to see the greatness of this young man whose full name is Ibrahim Datuk Tan Malaka.
Tan Malaka is indeed one of the nation's warriors who loves football. His name deserves to be compared to other great figures, such as Bung Hatta, Sutan Sjahrir, Soekarno, to MH Thamrin who wanted to show that their nation is also human. Through football, they want to emphasize the humanity of the Indonesian people. For them, sport is a symbol of determination to uphold the dignity of the nation, not a place for a prestige battle by a number of officials who only think about personal and material interests as is the case today.
Born in Nagari Padam Gadang, Suliki, West Sumatra, on June 2, 1897, since childhood Tan Malaka was familiar with football. His father, Rasad Chaniago, was a lowly official. Meanwhile, his mother, Sinah Simabur, is a housewife. In the family, Tan is the eldest of two siblings. The younger brother, Kamaruddin, is six years younger.
At a young age, Tan Malaka is a portrait of a Minangkabau boy. Apart from football, like other West Sumatran children, Tan also likes swimming in the river and playing kites. It is tough and brave, but also intelligent. This makes him different from other children. Tan always tries to be better than his peers even in a soccer game.
In the end, it was this trait that made Tan Malaka inscribe gold in the long history of the struggle of the Indonesian nation. Because of his intelligence, he was then recommended by a number of teachers to continue his education at the State Teachers' School, Fort de Kock, whose special students were only from aristocrats and high officials.
Famous in the Netherlands
At the age of 16, Tan Malaka then continued his education at Rijks Kweekschool in Harleem, Netherlands in 1913. In that city, Tan was famous in football matters. Even though he is only 165 cm tall, he has several times amazed his colleagues because of his dexterity in herding the round skin.
During his two years (1914-1916) living in Harleem, Tan Malaka joined the professional club Vlugheid Wint. At the club, Tan is known as a reliable striker who has extraordinary speed. Playing on the front lines, some goalkeepers have experienced his hard kicks even though they are playing barefoot.
The cold weather in the Netherlands did not dampen his love for football. Several times, Tan Malaka often ignored the warnings of his colleagues to wear a thick jacket during game breaks. His feet were often injured because he was not wearing shoes. However, even though he was sick like that, Tan's desire to play was not extinguished.
Loving football did not make Tan Malaka forget his main task, namely fighting for the fate of the Indonesian Archipelago from the Dutch colonialism. Along the way, a number of developments in world politics and the raging wars have influenced Tan's thinking. Not infrequently, he got this thought during a discussion in a boarding house in Jacobijnesraat with Belgian refugees who had fled from Nazi Germany. Football has also been used as a topic of conversation several times over coffee.
At the end of 1916, Tan left Harleem and continued his journey to several countries. Even though he failed to get a teaching license because he failed the teacher exam in the Netherlands, Tan learned important lessons about politics and democracy. Three years traveling in the Netherlands, Tan then decided to return to the archipelago in 1919. He returned home with one goal, namely to change the fate of the Indonesian people, including football.
Proud of PSSI
Tan Malaka then worked as a teacher on a plantation in Deli called Senembah in mid-1919. In an area that was still on the same island as his homeland, Tan was touched because there were still many indigenous people who did not live a decent life. This is in stark contrast to the wealth and land of Deli which is full of abundant natural resources. The wealth was eventually used up because it was sucked up and drained by the colonial government.
A similar scene also occurs in Indonesian football. In the early 1920s, the cultural stigma of Dutch colonial superiority seeped into the most popular sport in the Dutch East Indies. It is not uncommon to find a warning sign that reads Verboden voor Inlanders en Houden or "No Entry for Natives and Dogs" in the front yard of a number of football fields. Not a few indigenous people also have to bite their fingers just to channel their hobby of football.
Several clubs such as Setiaki, Ster and Den Bruinen in Batavia were witnesses to class classification politics that penetrated into football matters. A number of these clubs often interact with a number of movement figures such as Bung Hatta, Soekarno, Sjahrir, MH Thamrin, and also Tan Malaka. The spirit of the Youth Pledge was then used as a tool to encourage young people to join in fighting the corruption of the Netherlands' NIVB (Nedherlands Indish Voetbal Bond).
At that time, Tan Malaka was not in the country. He was expelled from Indonesia and exiled to Amsterdam, because he was active in the communist and Islamic movements against Dutch imperialism in May 1922. For about 20 years, Tan wandered overseas. He visited several countries, he even used a number of pseudonyms to trick police intelligence.
Even though he is in a foreign country, Tan never forgets his ancestors because his love for football never fades. In other countries, he also follows developments in news of the success of Indonesian youths astride the Dutch colonial government in football. At that time, Persatoean Sepakraga Seloeroeh Indonesia (now PSSI) under the leadership of Ir Soeratin Sosrosoegondo was able to prove that Indonesian football could show off not only to the Netherlands, but to the world.
In the 1930s, Nusantara succeeded in occupying the elite position of Asian football with Israel (then still in the Asian zone), Burma (Myanmar) and Iran. Using the name Dutch East Indies, Nusantara became the first Asian football team to appear in the 1938 World Cup. Seeing this success, Tan was clearly proud because football was able to transform not just a cultural product, but also a political product, which is closely related to issues of identity and spirit. Indonesian nationality.
In fact, when he returned to his homeland and settled in Bayah, Banten in 1943, Tan Malaka still loved football. At that time, Tan used the pseudonym, Ilyas Hussein. In areas that were feared, including by the Japanese army, because of epidemics of scurvy, dysentery and malaria, the natives lived a miserable life by becoming Romusha. That fear did not descend on Tan. He continued to fight, so that the natives would not be discouraged.
Arif Zulkifli in his book entitled Tan Malaka: The Forgotten Father of the Republic, said that Tan Malaka often helped the common people in the area through football. In the midst of Japanese oppression, Tan was the initiator of building a soccer field in Bayah. Not infrequently, he went straight to the field and played as a winger or just as a referee in the Rangkasbitung championship. After playing, Tan, who is known for always wearing shorts, a tropical helmet and a stick, usually treats the players of the soccer team competing in the championship.
Football way of life
Seeing this piece of historical fact, Tan Malaka did not directly fight to defend the Archipelago in football. However, he understands being a football lover who understands that sport is the identity of the nation. Not infrequently, in some of his thoughts, Tan connects small things in the sport that can be applied in various fields of social life in society.
In one of his works, Madilog (Materialism, Dialectics, and Logic), Tan makes an analogy that one way to prevent chaos is like choosing players in a soccer match. He wrote, "When we watch a football match, we separate the players first, which one is in this club, which one is in that group. If not, we are confused. We can't know who will lose, who will win." win. Which ones are good at playing, which are not."
His words also seem appropriate for us to pin on a number of Indonesian football officials who are currently in conflict. There are too many political intrigues, mutual claims that make football achievements sink into dark history. In fact, if the administrators could separate themselves that their job is true sports officials, the endless chaos like now would never have happened.
If only a number of these administrators could inspire Tan Malaka's struggles, surely it is not impossible for football to go in a good direction. Tan Malaka is indeed a controversial fighter because of his communist ideas. However, at least his thoughts were able to make big figures like Soekarno and Bung Hatta admit that he was also the father of the Republic who wanted to make his people prosperous. That desire must be emulated by a number of Indonesian football officials!
There is no revolutionary spirit for the sake of the people like Tan Malaka in a number of warring officials. PSSI, the large organization founded for the sake of unity, seems to prefer a feud full of intrigue which is also an arena for hostilities. Moreover, for the first time in history, PSSI broke up with the emergence of the Indonesian Football Rescue Committee (KPSI)c and there was a dualism of "hostile" competitions. The people also became victims, because the golden achievements of the sport they loved never arrived.
In the midst of this chaos, the figure of Tan Malaka continues to be controversial. His body is still a mystery. But what is certain is that his legacy of love, struggle and thoughts about football deserve praise. This legacy will remain in the Indonesian archipelago which is rich in the golden history of football. This beautiful game, which is currently being played by stale actors, is like a politician whose conscience has died.