Indonesia has high hopes for 2006 Junior League World Series

August 11, 2006

The players and coaching staff of the baseball team from Jakarta, Indonesia, say they aren’t visiting the United States for the first time for a vacation.

They are in Taylor to win.

Jakarta, champion of the Asia-Pacific Region, is one of 10 teams to qualify for the Junior League World Series, which begins Sunday at Heritage Park in Taylor. At noon, Indonesia plays in the opening game against the Ramstein Air Force Base team from Germany, champion of the region that encompasses Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Reona Matsui and his Jakarta teammates feel excited about being in the United States and are proud to be the first-ever team from their homeland to compete in a World Series.

“We are happy to be in the World Series,” said Matsui, who pitches, catches and plays third base. “We must have fun and we must concentrate on the game.”

Manager Arie Rusmiputro, whose son, Raditya, is on the team, said the boys are fun loving, but they are getting serious when it comes to playing baseball.

“It’s great,” Rusmiputro said. “This is the first time we are here participating in the World Series. Once they got to the championship (in the Asia-Pacific Region), they have been crazy to go to the United States.”

Crazy as in crazy to win ballgames.

Rusmiputro said the team has taken the Latin proverb “Vini Vidi Vici” – which means “I came, I saw, I conquered” – and loosely translated it into “we come, we play and we win.”

He said the Indonesian team did not win a Southeast Asia tournament in Bangkok, so it retooled and added some new players. The team rallied to win the Asia-Pacific Region in Jakarta and spirits have been sailing every since.

The team manager said Indonesia is a country of about 300 million people that is located halfway across the globe from Michigan -- nearly 9,900 miles from Taylor. It took almost 24 hours for the team to get here.

“Actually, we are as large as the United States, but with more water,” Rusmiputro said, laughing. “We have thousands of islands, big and small.”

He said the main sports are international football (soccer), badminton and volleyball. However, the popularity of baseball is on the rise. Rusmiputro said the program has been growing the last 10 years and, since they can play baseball and softball 12 months a year, it can only keep growing.

Dwinda Ruslan, whose son Ugrasena is on the team, said the boys want to perform well while in Taylor.

“They like to play in America,” Ruslan said. “America is a baseball country. They want to do their best and win the games.”