Strolling back home from the local mini-mart with Our Kid yesterday, we passed the last remaining patch of empty space. He expressed the hope that it wouldn't be built on; where can kids play, he asked, in the road?
We don't live on a main road, and our back street isn't wide enough for double-parking yet few are the motorists who drive gently with regard for residents and pedestrians. We may have to build a polisi tidur
(sleeping policeman) to slow things down so our kids can play street football or badminton. As it is, I rarely see games of tag or similar street games. The current local craze is marbles
, a game which can be played in confined spaces.
Play provision is commercialised here; for example, the Ford Motor Company has issued a press release
regarding the customer service in their showrooms. One glance at the plastic play pens tells me that their approach is one of 'children should be seen and not heard', especially when there is a sale to be made.
Sports in Indonesia are of little significance given that this is, at c.220 million, the fourth most populous nation. Spectator sports can, albethey non-participatory, provide the communality which actually playing offers. It is to be hoped that Peter Withe
, appointed coach of the Indonesian FA two months ago, can fulfil his vision. "The biggest thing that we must change is the attitude and mentality of the players.
I doubt he'll have problem players like Adrian Mutu
, but will he be able to bring football into the community? Perhaps he could enlist the help of Charlton Athletic who are receiving plaudits for their support for their supporters
and their outreach work in a township
in South Africa.
Taking part in sports and play activities is essential in developing teamwork and social relationships. They are inseparable too in understanding one's local community. We learn through play; if there are few facilities for our children, then how will society function? University studies
into the interaction of children within their local environment in Indonesia seems to be more prevalent in the UK than here, but they focus on the desperate needs of homeless children
who are, unfortunately, the only ones with access to the streets.
Most projects offering practical support to street children arise from individual compassion
, drive and vision rather than mere research. It disturbs me a little that in Indonesia there is a reliance on foreign expertise such as Save The Children Fund
. I sincerely hope that the short-term input and energy of westerners, such as Our Man In Hanoi
, with skills and enthusiasm to offer, translates into long-term community gains such as local awareness and community responsibility.
The welfare of children depends on all those who have a concern for the future; some of the participants may be seeking consumers for their products whilst others may have purely altruistic motives. Whatever the motivation, successful partnerships, such as this one
, are streets ahead of those who only care for personal or corporate aggrandisement.
Here endeth the sermon.