Every nation loves its sports heroes. In some countries, such heroes can even have second careers as politicians. But the truth is that success in sports can lift national spirits like nothing else can.
For Indonesia, Christopher Rungkat might have written himself into tennis and patriotic folklore by carrying Indonesia into Group I of the Davis Cup. Christopher was involved in all three wins in Indonesia’s 3-2 victory over the Philippines in Group 2 of the Asia/Oceania zone.
Sunday’s victory puts Indonesia back into Group I, where it will compete in 2013. Indonesia was relegated to the second group in 2005 but now has a chance to establish itself as one of the world’s top 16 teams. This is significant and should not be overlooked. It could help the nation achieve greater sporting success in the future.
Tennis trails in popularity, but Christopher could help create interest in the game, especially for young players. He may have inspired thousands of athletes who are already working hard for success. Athletes as role models are critical and Christopher must live up to his reputation.
Other sports may also benefit. Indonesia used to rule badminton but has fallen several notches down the pecking order. Simply put, the sport has not been well managed. With Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan announcing his candidacy for the top post of the Indonesian Badminton Association (PBSI), things might start to pick up.
Indonesia needs people like Gita to get involved. He has what it takes to manage the PBSI. He built a golf academy with his own resources, and with such dedication, Indonesian sports have a bright future.
We must ensure that Christopher’s success is only the start and will lead to others who can play at the highest levels of international sports. That would be his ultimate contribution.