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Q&A with Djulondian Jaing: Indonesia at the Australian Women’s Baseball Championships

Djulondin Jaing, manager of the Indonesian Youth side. (Picture by Tim Warren)

Djulondin Jaing, manager of the Indonesian Youth side (Picture by Tim Warren)

After a week of competition from the 15th-20th of April, Indonesia’s youth baseball team have just completed competing at their first ever Australian women’s championships in Canberra.

The team made up of junior women baseballer’s under the age of 16, competed in the six-day tournament located at Narrabundah Ballpark in the ACT.

The Indonesian youth side finished the tournament behind all other Australian states in last position, recording one win and seven losses.

Their first and only win of the entire championships astonishingly came in the opening game of the week, defeating Victoria 13-6. Victoria went on to finish the tournament in third position.

Although, this year, the Australian women’s youth championships meant a whole lot more than just wins and losses, with inclusion and diversity taking the main seat. The young Indonesian women brought a lot more than skilful baseball to the tournament, with their energy, enthusiasm, laughter and singing all shining through.

However, the first edition of the Indonesian youth side to the tournament didn’t happen overnight, with years of prior planning the cause of a successful and prosperous introduction.

The ‘Diamonds in the Rough’ program is an overseas program designed to empower and inspire Indonesian women through baseball.

Narelle Gosstray, the founder of the program, developed mentoring workshops where the Australian women’s national baseball team, the Emeralds, would travel over to Indonesia to teach local schoolgirls baseball skills as well as instilling the young women with confidence.

In the past without the inception of the ‘Diamond’s in the Rough’ initiative, financial constraints usually restricted players from Indonesia pursuing future opportunities. However, this specific program is funded by the Australian Government’s Asian sports partnership grant, allowing more young women to play baseball.

I spoke to Djulondian Jaing to get his thoughts on this year’s Australian women’s youth championships and to get an understanding of the positives and challenges that the tournament presented to the Indonesian team.

The Indonesian Youth players enjoying the Baseball (Photo by Tim Warren)

Q: It’s your first time competing at the Australian women’s youth championships, how are you finding the experience?

A: This is the first time we’ve joined an official tournament, but some of them in 2017 came to Australia to Redland Bay in Brisbane for a training camp. We’re very excited about it because this is the first time Indonesia has sent a women’s baseball team to an international game. We’re very appreciative of Baseball Australia for their support through different challenges. Secondly, we have tried to make up a team that is under the age of 15, but some players [in our team] are already overage for this system. However, Baseball Australia authorised us approval for them to come and play. This is a very nice opportunity for us and we’re very appreciate of it.

Q: How did the ‘Diamond’s in the Rough’ program help put your team together?

A: Yes, I heard about that program about two or three years ago through Narelle, who is the person in charge. She has come to Indonesia quite a number of times. But at the time our federation, Baseball Indonesia, didn’t have the women and girls baseball [structure] in place. So after that visit about the girl’s team, we tried to develop a team in this [youth] age group. That’s why I tried, maybe about a year ago, to get this team to come here to play in the Australian youth women championships. We have a meeting every six months to decide how the program will run in Bali, Jakarta, Bandung, and now we have a new member from Malang. We hope this program can make this sport, especially women’s baseball, bigger in Indonesia. Everything needs to start somewhere.

Q: Is there a financial strain on the Indonesian team/players by competing in an international tournament?

A: Baseball Australia have been extremely supportive of the whole program, so for that, we are very fortunate. The Australian Government Asian sports grant has also been very helpful as it provides us with some of the training and equipment we require to compete in baseball. The parents and families of the player’s obviously have to take care of some payment regarding the process to play, however, these costs are reduced greatly by all the help we receive.

Q: How popular is baseball in Indonesia?

A: Actually, we are not a country of baseball. But we truly try to motivate the girls to give them hope. But as I said, we are one or two years behind preparing the girls for this team at the federation of Baseball Indonesia. This is very important for us because this is the start of what will become a long history. The game is not all about winning, it’s also about how to learn sportsmanship. It’s also a learning experience for the girls because some people think that baseball is only for men, but here in Australia, we get the chance to show it’s for both [men and women]. This is very important because it can make girls more confident and give them the same opportunities as boys for a better future in baseball. Making friends is also very important. Indonesia and Australia are neighbours, so this is good for us I think.

Q: What’s the best thing about being in Canberra for the Youth Championships?

A: The best thing is that they can know, that they can see, that they can play together with those [Australian] girls who are used to being in the baseball world. We are behind them, as the girls used to play softball, that’s the difference. We have to bring them over here so they can see with their own eyes and feel how to play, just to give them a chance. After all, they are the best type of players we have right now.

Indonesian Youth Pitcher (Photo by Tim Warren)

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