Ana baulks left and then right as more and more of the opposition descend upon her. However, they are unable to lay the all important touch until finally she kicks, and the ball sails high through the middle two goal posts. Ana, who less than two years ago had never even heard of Australian Rules Football, known locally as Aussie Rules, has scored her first footy goal. She is quickly mobbed by her teammates.
Ana Surjanto comes from Boyolali in Central Java. She moved to Salatiga as an undergraduate before receiving an Indonesian government scholarship (LPDP) to complete her masters in TESOL at Monash University. An Indonesian friend from Monash introduced her to the sport.
“I first heard about footy from my friend Shofia, who was also studying at Monash. She [Shofia] shared a flyer and once I saw the shape of the ball, it made me curious to learn footy and join the Krakatoas [Sports] Club,” explains Ana.
Ana and the Krakatoas
The Krakatoas club was founded in 2015 as the first Indonesian-Australian Aussie Rules footy team in Melbourne. The team features a mixture of female and male Indonesian and Australian players. The primary objective of the team is to introduce Indonesians to the local game and to make new friends with Australians. In the Krakatoas, Ana had found her footy family.
“I joined Krakatoas training every week during the Footy 7s matches. Having regular training made me familiar with footy. Also, I got involved playing matches with locals. It is interesting to know and play footy because the rules require you to use both your hands and feet. Furthermore, footy taught me new ways to collaborate and communicate as a team.”
When Ana joined the Krakatoas she started in the defensive line, but as her skill and confidence grew, she was used increasingly up front. Ana says one of her proudest footy moments was her first goal.
“I was so proud of myself when I kicked that goal. It really motivated me, knowing that the training paid off.”
Off the pitch, Ana is mild-mannered and friendly, but once she steps on the field it’s a different story. When not playing herself, Ana supports her favourite team Collingwood. While in Melbourne, Ana would often attend Collingwood matches with her Krakatoas teammates and fellow Collingwood fans.
“I support Collingwood because to be black and white means to be the best and never quit. I mean, we can be the best, as long as we make a big effort to achieve what we deserve. In this case, I believe the achievements of the team I support are due to the players’ hard work, while we as the supporters are there to cheer them on.”
In March 2018 Ana returned to Salatiga after completing her studies in Melbourne. Now, with the support of AFL Indonesia, she is helping to spread Aussie Rules to Indonesian girls and boys. Ana has become an accredited coach (the first female in Asia) and taught over 50 women from her local university in Salatiga.
There have been several challenges, including trying to explain the sport to an unfamiliar audience and also securing resources such as grounds and equipment. Nevertheless, Ana says that she is enjoying the challenge and it has encouraged her to keep practising her footy.
The Indonesia-Australia relationship
Ana believes there are several strategies that could be employed to make Indonesians more interested in Aussie Rules, such as bringing the game to schools and community groups in Indonesia as well as sharing news and videos of the sport in the media. She says that involvement with Aussie Rules is a great way for Indonesians to meet Australians.
“As Australia is one of Indonesia’s neighbours, it is good to have an understanding of the culture. For instance, footy is the best way to start up a conversation and mingle with Australians.”
One of Ana’s goals is to get more women in Indonesia interested in playing Aussie Rules as an opportunity to meet new people and study abroad.
“Having friends from outside of Indonesia is amazing. And when we see foreigners learn Indonesian culture, we're so happy and appreciative. Likewise, if you want to go to Australia, the best way to mingle with Australians is by knowing about footy. Furthermore, playing footy will make you healthy. Thus, the girls are excited to join.”
Ana is currently focused on growing Aussie Rules in Indonesia. Her Krakatoas teammates, however, are hoping she will come back to Melbourne for the next footy season.
Tim Flicker (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a player for the Krakatoas Sports Club. He is passionate about the ability of sport to bring people together from different cultural backgrounds. He met Ana while playing for the Krakatoas and hopes the two will be playing footy together (again) soon. Contact him via email with any questions about the Krakatoas.
SBS Radio Indonesia aired a story on Ana in Bahasa Indonesia which you can listen to here.