In 2015, the Jakarta Bintangs Football Club celebrated its twenty year anniversary, publishing the prestigious Hall of Fame teams for both best on field and best off field on tour high achievers in those decades. Formed in 1995 by a few hard core true believers in an inauspicious time, with little local recognition of AFL, a much smaller expat community and a looming Asian Financial Crisis, the great game of AFL has leapt from success to success across Java on the back of its diverse playing crew.
A total of 457 players have turned out in the Red, White and Black over the years. There have been Australian expats of course, but also French, Canadian, Dutch, American, and an Undead Transylvanian, as well as an army of fit skilled Indonesian players. Originally, the Bintangs outwork in the orphanages was relying on gradual incremental gains in getting the less resourced youth into an active and structured run around with opaque rules and a cruel ovoid ball.
With the continuous sponsorship of the Australian Embassy and the dedication of the Australian Youth Ambassadors who bought the game to a new level throughout Java, a powerful squad of genuine Indonesian AFL Players has been formed making international matches on clear merit and even scoring All Asian Guernseys for Yosi Taihuttu and Vincent Halim. Now for the first time ever in the 2016 Asian Champs, the Indonesian Garudas will field a stand-alone national team, and the expatriate Bintangs will have to rely solely on their own resources: namely selfless team focus, the combined wisdom of hundreds of seasons of AFL football and a well recognised obsession with fitness and clean living.
Coming off a string of match winning Bintangs performances this year, players to watch will be:
Beau Temby, narrowly avoiding shoulder amputation in the Champs 2015 but back full on this year due to his starfish like regenerative abilities.
Robert “Prowler” Powell, as always a cross between Brent “Boomer” Harvey and a racing whippet.
Chad “Childkiller” Loan, one to watch not so much for football but because it would be reckless to turn your back on him
In the 2016 Asian Champs, there will be a celebration, on field and off field, of the greatness of our game, the camaraderie in and between teams and the fact that each player has managed to survive another year despite constant predictions to the contrary.
A view from above: The ‘Tangs love playing in Vietnam, this year defeating the Swans for the second time at their spiritual home Vung Tau on Anzac Day. Their form since then has been outstanding and they will be very pleased to have convinced the AFL Asia administrators to count their Jan 25 win against the Garudas which will see them come to Champs on top of the AFL Asia ladder with their 7-1 record, having only gone down to a Bali Geckos team laced with AFL talent by a couple of goals. Their form in the full length game will mean little in the fast and furious Champs format, which the Tangs have often struggled to come to terms with in recent years, not having lifted the trophy since 2002. The decision to field a stand alone Garudas team in Div 2 will not help them get through the long day, with many of their experienced locals now as good as anyone on the park and an integral part of their squad, placing huge demands on the Bintang expats at Champs.