Monday, October 15th, 2012

[pullquote]The finish, or known as “finish time” is some sort of ‘certainty’ they cannot find in the Immigration Detention Center[/pullquote]

It was Sunday evening of 9 September 2012. Twelve African men were walking toward a rather big shop in Cipayung. They were some asylum seekers from Somalia, Sudan and Ethiopia. Their destination, a place on the third floor of that building, was a futsal playground. An artificial grass carpet was neatly laid to cover the whole floor. Since last July 2012 the JRS has been renting the ground to enable the asylum seekers to use it three times a month with one hour duration for each session.

Futsal is one of their means to get and maintain the physical as well as mental health. In and through futsal they develop their confidence, if they can build up a positive self-perception, that they are actually respectable persons who have real capabilities. Their motivation in futsal games is not merely ‘scoring for a victory’, despite the fact that this is always vital in any sport branch. Without a victory, they still can enjoy their happy times together. Satisfaction does help them in forging a meaningful life during as well as after the games.

We pay more attention to things beneficial to us. We make utmost endeavours for those things. If a mountain climb is meaningful to someone, he/ she will certainly set aside special time and efforts needed to reach the mountain summit. And as futsal has a very special meaning to the asylum seekers, they play futsal with a right, good and beautiful manner. Futsal creates a communal life drama which appreciates truth, kindness and beauty.


The truth is reflected from their play that guarantees the same set of rules for the two teams, with the size of goal posts, same number of players, an impartial referee and fair division of play times in the one-hour time  those twelve people. Ten of them are playing in the pitch with the rest two of them acting as referees while waiting for their turns to join the game. Every ten minutes they make substitutions of two players.

The times to start and to finish the play are already known: the futsal starts at 20:30 and finishes at 21:30. The finish, or known as “finish time” is some sort of ‘certainty’ they cannot find in the Immigration Detention Center or Rudenim. The asylum seekers and refugees confined in the Rudenim are called detainees. What is the difference between a convict in jail and a detainee confined in a Rudenim cell? The convict knows from the start of his jail term how long he will have to wait for the time to be released from jail. He can make his own countdown of his days in the cell until he’s freed. But a detainee in Rudenim can only add up his number of days from the outset of his detention, because he just cannot know when the “finish time” – when he is allowed to leave the Rudenim cell – really comes.

When the conflicts in their countries of origins will end, how many more decades – or even centuries – they will continue to go on, are unkown. Their lives which have been blurred by the uncertainties are in contradiction with the futsal games that give them the assurance of the finish time, and they will know the full-time scores between the two competing teams.

Time is becoming more precious for the players as the game approaches the finish time bell. As the finish time gets closer and closer, the efforts from both sides are getting stronger and stronger to reach their ultimate aims. Their play is growingly better. And that’s why many people repent when the ‘finish times’ of their lives are getting nearer. Death is a certainty regarding the end of our lives. Those asylum seekers flee to other countries because they have tried to reject deaths, which the people hunting them were forcibly putting forward.

Futsal reflects their refusal to all things which should not and never happen. In spite of its relationship with the socalled spirit of change and freedom, this kind of refusal is not a solution. Of course, futsal is not a means to accelerate the process of issuing the Refugee Status for a detainee. All that is found in futsal only shows what should take place in our lives. The finish time for the futsal playing detainees is analogue to that the detainees in the Rudenim may be looking forward to in waiting for their future.


The kindness is emitted in the teamwork, determination, self-discipline and willingness to sacrifice for something valuable, respect and generosity to complement whatever deserving praises in the field. Outside the pitch we also see their kindness to communicate with other people they do not know well. A Sudanese asylum seeker showed a smile and greeted Indonesian neighbours he met “Halo, apa kabar? Bagaimana Futsal? Bagus? “ (Hi, how are you? How’s the futsal? Was it good?). His Indonesian sounds funny. “I enjoy playing here”.

Another asylum seeker, this one from Sudan, said to us “Look at this!”, while pointing at his shinbone swollen after getting a tackle. “I’ll be likely difficult to sleep now.”  And that was it. He didn’t want to blame anyone else for the wrong-kicking accident.

The futsal hall in Cipayung isn’t at all the Paradise, where there are perfection, flawlessness and problems. Often there are mistakes in our common efforts. But in facing those mistakes we must show our positive and responsible attitudes. Sometime we fail to keep up the positive attitude toward mistakes. But in confronting those mistakes, these asylum seekers, too, are challenged to show their positive attitudes.

One of them did grumble when he should leave the field as his turn ended.  He left the pitch and changed his dress. The game was suspended.  Some people approached him, trying to understand his complaints and persuaded him to hold out in togetherness. He just warded off the persuasion. Fina. The time allocated for the game was still 20 minutes left, and the game continued. That man took his bag and walked back to his cell. When passing by us, he didn’t miss to say goodbye. Didn’t he know that every ten minutes two of the players had to be replaced? If he knew and accepted that rule, whether what he had complained about was the way his fellow detainees had been using to determine who should leave and enter the pitch? Let those question unanswered. What we should appreciate was that all the asylum seekers playing on the futsal ground had their full freedom to do whatever deserving their actions.


The beauty of nature and culture is surrounding us – whether we are aware or not. The beauty is not only found in the novelty, extraordinariness and surprise. It is there in the futsal games. One factor setting the radiance of beauty from the art of playing futsal is one’s ability to take control of the ball with his agile feet and smart head. Another factor is the opportunity – often unexpectedly – a player can get to demonstrate that ability. The mixture of these two factors – ability and opportunity – plays an important role in every action of ball dribbling, tricks and ball shooting toward the rivals’ goal.

The ability and opportunity in futsal the asylum seekers play remind us of the ability and opportunity in the community’s life. If every one of us gives as much ability as he/ she has and every one of us also receives everything he/ she actually needs, the whole diverse talents in one group of people would contribute to the entire community’s welfare. That was once shown, for example, by the Christians in Antioch who gave donations according to their respective ability to those who were suffering from hunger in Judea (The Apostles 11:29)

The community appreciates the work and considers the dependence as a normal condition in the life of an early age child, but abnormal in the life of an adult person. Self-sufficiency is regarded as respectable, but dependence shameful. That’s why our hearts and minds should acceptably be moved by our sympathy toward those asylum seekers, refugees and detainees who actually have the ability to work, but legally do not have the opportunity to work in Indonesia. The law bars them from working here, and as a consequence they have to bear the shame of dependence. So if we are moved by our mercy to them, we can always take part in any collective efforts to help them in the proportions pursuant to our respective ability and opportunity. What we call “opportunity” is often a matter of “willingness”.

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