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Teen football coach teaches peace on the pitch

Love of sport and teamwork turns kids of many backgrounds into a close-knit team, in school service project.

By Zahara Tiba for Khabar Southeast Asia in Jakarta

February 18, 2013
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When he was just 14 and could barely speak Indonesian, Jason Grant decided to become a football coach.

  • A slide show describes how teen football coach Jason Grant built his team, at a February 7th ceremony marking School Day for Peace and Understanding at British International School in Banten, West Java. Jason won an award for building a football community among kids of different nationalities and income levels. [Zahara Tiba/Khabar]

    A slide show describes how teen football coach Jason Grant built his team, at a February 7th ceremony marking School Day for Peace and Understanding at British International School in Banten, West Java. Jason won an award for building a football community among kids of different nationalities and income levels. [Zahara Tiba/Khabar]

It happened when the British International School (BIS) in Banten Province, just west of Jakarta, required every student to perform a service project of their choosing. Jason chose to share his passion for football, and offered to coach a children's football team.

The offer attracted many kids from the area, from BIS and other schools. "They all came down, and I started training them," Jason told Khabar Southeast Asia.

He picked football because it is so popular in Indonesia – and his own favorite sport.

"They look up to their stars like Christian Gonzalez, Irfan Bachdim and all of that. They love watching football. Football is my hobby and my favorite sport, so I thought it's nice to pass down my skills to them by being a coach," said Jason.

It was not easy to get started. The half-Irish, half-Indonesian teenager said his Indonesian was not great at first. Also, "the kids were really shy because I didn't really know them and they didn't really know me".

Three years later, Jason treats his players, who range in age from 15 to17, like friends and family – although he's still working on his Indonesian.

The number of kids changes every year. Some have left, but new players have joined. This year, Jason said, they have a couple of new players and teams, including a team from Sekolah Bisa, a school designed and managed by BIS for underprivileged children.

"They never had the opportunity to gain an education. BIS provided them with an education, and then I recruited them to be on the team as well. We have seventeen kids this year," he said.

Through the project, Jason believes he is not only promoting football skills and sportsmanship, but also tolerance and teamwork – the building blocks of peace.

"As time went by, we grew together and became a team. We got closer and closer, and now we're really close. We grew larger as a community," he said.

On February 7th, his work was recognised with the 2012 Peace and Co-operation School Award initiated by Peace and Co-operation, a Spanish non-governmental organisation with UN consultative status.

The award was bestowed on School Day for Peace and Understanding at BIS, in a ceremony attended by teachers, classmates, parents and the diplomatic staff of some 30 countries, who entered projects under the 2012 competition theme "Peace Through Sports".

"I'm really glad and honored to receive this award," Jason said. But he doesn't believe his work is finished.

"I'll continue to coach the kids and help continue develop their skills. If we win this league, it's really nice for the kids," he said.

Rafael Conte de Saro, Spain's ambassador to Indonesia, said that sports were picked as the theme because they play an important role in promoting peace, particularly in fostering mutual understanding between people with different cultural, religious, and political backgrounds.

Separately, educators and students from other Jakarta-area schools gave their thoughts on the power of sports to teach tolerance and peace.

"Promoting peace among kids from early ages is important because something big starts from small steps. And peace is something big," said Nunik Rahmania, a teacher at Jakarta’s Lazuardi Global Islamic School.

"In Lazuardi, we help promote peace through character building and by raising global awareness in our curricula. We hope we can help raise the kids who are respectful to each other without putting differences as a problem," she added.

"A role model from teenagers in sports is a good start to present peace from small thing. Sports is something universal that can be the right media to promote peace."

Magynta Arsha Sekarin Harani, 15, a student of Al-Azhar Pejaten of Jakarta , was named Most Valuable Player at the 2012 Development Basketball League, an annual student basketball competition in Indonesia. She also brought laurel for the Al-Azhar Pejaten, or Alpen, as last year’s winner.

"It is important to promote peace among us because we cannot live alone in this world. We need other people," she told Khabar.

"Sports is important to help promote it because through sportsmanship we can raise tolerance. For example, to win or lose is something that will happen in every game. There we can learn how to stay humble as a winner and show some respect."

Reader Comments
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    • atung sihotang
      May 15, 2013 @ 12:05:20AM
    • Don't get too excited, guys.
    • Neng siti
      May 10, 2013 @ 05:05:17AM
    • I am still in junior high school. The lessons are very difficult.
    • Randy
      May 10, 2013 @ 02:05:12AM
    • Why are you still angry?
    • Armiadi
      May 5, 2013 @ 09:05:47AM
    • Yes, I wholeheartedly agree.
    • Roynal Richard Ully
      May 3, 2013 @ 01:05:39AM
    • The officials of this country should take a leaf out of Jason's page, fostering the spirit of football in Indonesia, rather than sitting on their perch and leaving the unfortunate to suffer.
    • M Taufik
      April 8, 2013 @ 08:04:43PM
    • Sportsmanship and togetherness in sports teaches us to be responsible as a people and a nation. Salute to Jason Grant who is already able to educate those willing to cooperate and be responsible at his young age
    • Risun adidi
      March 19, 2013 @ 10:03:21PM
    • I like your struggle.
    • martha delpiya man
      March 19, 2013 @ 10:03:32AM
    • Keep fighting!
    • Agung Nugroho
      March 17, 2013 @ 04:03:09AM
    • If someone is corrupt in Indonesia it would be better to shoot them with a gun so they would not dare commit corruption again.
    • hanafi
      March 5, 2013 @ 10:03:12PM
    • well.....IT'S HOW IT IS.........! "the management needs to be fixed first......don't just be corrupt ......
    • hanny
      February 19, 2013 @ 09:02:42PM
    • Sports is the only way to foster good relationships with other countries.
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