Primastuti Handayani, The Jakarta Post, Madrid
Spain may have Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso, world No. 2 tennis player Rafael Nadal, top NBA basketball player Pau Gusol and the star-studded Barcelona and Real Madrid soccer clubs. But the country does not yet shine in badminton, lacking the internationally renowned shuttlers of European powerhouses like Denmark and England.
To help boost badminton's chances in the country, the Badminton Fede- ration of Spain (FESBA) has turned to the Badminton Association of Indonesia (PBSI) to set up a coaching exchange program.
Indonesian players have good memories of Spain. The country won its first Olympics gold medals in Barcelona in 1992 through Alan Budi- kusuma and Susy Susanti. Nine years later, Hendrawan and Tony Gunawan/Halim Heryanto won the men's singles and doubles in the 2001 World Championships in Sevilla.
FESBA has been very enthusiastic about cooperating with Indonesia to improve badminton development here, Indonesian Ambassador to Spain Slamet Santoso Mustafa told The Jakarta Post and BOLA sports tabloid on Tuesday.
Spain acknowledges our achievements on the international stage.
The technicalities of the agreement would soon be worked out and it was only a matter of time before the program began, Slamet said.
FESBA has already hired two Indonesian coaches on yearly contracts -- Stenny Kusuma and Hendry Winarto, both from the Surabaya-based Suryanaga Gudang Garam club -- and it is also contemplating sending shuttlers to compete in Indonesia's national championships under a special program.
At the world championships in Madrid, Spain is fielding 15 shuttlers -- one of Chinese descent, Xu Bing Xin, is competing in the women's singles. On day one, men's singles Pablo Abian and women's singles Lucia Tavera were ousted from the competition.
These results are not deterring Spain from pressing ahead to develop the sport, and FESBA has set up an annual national league competition to help reach the goal.
The association plans to hire more Indonesian coaches and send its skippers to the national training camp in Cipayung, East Jakarta.
The main problem is the language. Spain wants Indonesian coaches to be able to speak Spanish. (The embassy) helps by sending Spanish language teachers to several universities, including the University of Indonesia and Gadjah Mada University, Slamet said.
We hope by having Spanish-speaking coaches, we can extend their contracts here and send more coaches.
Slamet said the cooperation meant there would also be an opportunity to exchange coaches in other sports like soccer and basketball. Spanish sports, he said, had also helped Indonesia in other ways.
Real Madrid donated a sum of money when we held a bazaar recently to raise funds for tsunami victims in Aceh, Slamet said.
For the championships in Madrid, FESBA has given the Indonesian Embassy 100 free tickets to support the 11-strong national squad.
We won two titles in Sevilla, hopefully, we can win some here, Slamet said.
The ambassador also attended the Palacio de Deportes courts to lend his support to the national team.