Simon Santoso brought smiles to the faces of his countrymen on Sunday night by winning the men’s singles title at the Indonesia Open Super Series. It was the first time an Indonesian won the tournament since 2008. His hard-fought win was watched by millions of Indonesians who were glued to their TV sets.
The win also provides a much-needed boost for the country’s shuttlers ahead of the London Olympics in July. Simon had said that his focus was on the Olympics and that the Indonesian Open win would help him fine-tune his game.
His victory should be celebrated as an integral part of our society. Sports champions are great role models for our youth, and sports can bring the whole nation together like no other activity.
Once a world badminton powerhouse, Indonesia has not produced a world beater for some time now. We have had champions periodically, but none had the stature of Rudy Hartono or Liem Swie King, who dominated the game in their prime.
Indonesia has always had raw sports talent, but we have not created the right framework to allow this talent to develop to its full potential. We must turn this situation around by investing more in sports at all levels. While we may not have the economic power of China, which spends billions of dollars in developing sports stars, Indonesia should identify its best sports and go all-out in developing and producing world champions.
In the modern era, a country’s standing on the global stage is determined by several factors, such as economic and military strength but also sports and creative industries, or soft power.
Success in sports not only provides prestige and recognition for the nation, it contributes to healthy lifestyle habits. As a people, we must incorporate sports into our daily routine and celebrate those who give us a reason to be proud.