Arsenal will visit Indonesia, Vietnam and Japan as part of Asia Tour 2013 this summer. Ahead of the trip, we are getting to know more about the Club's fans - and this week it is the turn of Arsenal Indonesia president Rawindraditya Windra.
Name: Rawindraditya Windra
President since: 2005
How excited are you, and the whole of Arsenal Indonesia, about this summer's tour game in Jakarta?
There are no words that can describe my feelings about this July. To watch my beloved club coming to Indonesia and playing against our national team will be one of the best moments of my life. As for Arsenal Indonesia members, they can't wait to watch the squad playing a match in the flesh, rather than on television. For most of them it is a chance of a lifetime.
Twitter went crazy! #Arsenal2Indonesia was trending. It also crashed our website when we announced it
What do Arsenal Indonesia plan on doing in the build-up to the game?
We heard the rumour about Arsenal coming to Indonesia in September 2012 when we held our annual national gathering, so we have already been preparing for the big event this July. We will hold an Arsenal Indonesia international gathering. Many of our members from all corners of Indonesia will come. We currently have about 1,000 members confirmed as participating.
We’ve sent invitations to our colleagues from Arsenal supporters clubs in different regions of Asia, too. We are planning to do a special celebration during the match, which is still a secret.
What about when Arsenal arrive, what will you do to celebrate?
We'll welcome them at the airport, like we have did with ex-players and legends who have already visited Indonesia - Freddie Ljungberg, Robert Pires, David Seaman, Jose Antonio Reyes and Cesc Fabregas. An Arsenal-themed ambience will hopefully give satisfaction to all the players visiting Indonesia. I would imagine a much bigger crowd will wait at the airport as well as at the hotel as we are welcoming the whole squad and not an ex-player.
What was the reaction in Indonesia when you found out that Arsenal were going to visit Jakarta?
When our president, Mr Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, was pictured with Ivan Gazidis holding the Arsenal home jersey in London, Twitter went crazy! The hashtag #Arsenal2Indonesia was trending. It also crashed our website when we announced it.
How much is the excitement building as the tour gets closer?
The excitement has already built and has been maintained with some Arsenal events in Indonesia which have been organised by some parties like St Totteringham's Day after the last match of the season.
What have people said to you about the tour - are your family and friends excited? What about other members of Arsenal Indonesia?
My family and friends have asked me a lot about the preparations for Arsenal. It’s been the same with Arsenal Indonesia members. All of them want to the part of the committee and attend the meet and greet with the players. But the most important thing for us is to support the visit, to make sure our members as well as the Indonesian Gooners enjoy the visit, and hope that Arsenal will come back again.
Many factors make them popular, such as their appearance in the case of Giroud, Ramsey and Arteta, the skills possessed by Cazorla, Sczescny and Rosicky, and their Arsenal DNA, like with Wilshere, Jenkinson and Frimpong
Why are Arsenal so popular in the country - what is it about the club that attracts so many fans?
There are many factors. The name of Arsenal is very unique compared with other English clubs who use their city's name as their club name. Secondly, the Arsenal way of playing, which is rated as some the best football played. The last reason is because there are some great Dutch players that have become key players for the Club.
Who are you and the rest of Arsenal Indonesia particularly looking forward to seeing?
I'm looking forward to meeting Arsène Wenger himself as well as players such as Jack Wilshere, Carl Jenkinson, Per Mertesacker, Emmanuel Frimpong and of course the captain. The rest of Arsenal Indonesia want to see Theo Walcott, Olivier Giroud and the most handsome Arsenal player, Aaron Ramsey.
What makes these players so popular in Indonesia?
Many factors, such as their appearance in the case of Giroud, Ramsey and Arteta, the skills possessed by Cazorla, Szczesny and Rosicky, and their Arsenal DNA, like you see with Wilshere, Jenkinson and Frimpong.
What reception can Arsenal look forward to from the Indonesian people?
They can expect the best reception from Indonesian people. Football is the most popular sport here. As you might have heard, we were noisier fans during the last two summer visits than the ones in Malaysia.
What will the conditions be like in Jakarta in July - how hot will it be?
The temperature here will be hot when Arsenal come in July. Indonesia, tropical climate has two seasons and the summer will reach its climax on July.
Tell us about your own love of Arsenal - when did you first become a fan of the Club?
Honestly, I'm a Dennis Bergkamp follower. I became a Gooner when he moved from Inter Milan in 1995.
What are your first memories of being an Arsenal fan?
I remember when I was being bullied by some of my friends, a lot of them Manchester United fans, for claiming I was a Gooner. It's quite a memory because at that time there were not many Arsenal fans here. I'm just like a survivor in the jungle.
What is it about Arsenal that makes the Club special?
Their tradition, class and pride.
What will it mean to you to see Arsenal play in Indonesia again?
It will mean so much for me. Indonesia is again being trusted to hold an international event and Arsenal FC, one of the biggest clubs in the world, will play here.
What have been your personal highlights of supporting Arsenal?
Of course, the unbeaten season and the Old Trafford win. I could mock my Manchester United-supporting friends every time by singing "We won the league in Manchester.”
Tell us about the history of Arsenal Indonesia - you celebrated your 10-year anniversary recently, so how has it grown over the years?
It was all started from a mailing list, which had about 20 people on it. After a while, we decided to form a supporters club and applied for official recognition. In the early years, most of the supporters club members were based in Jakarta. We held our routine sport activities and watched Arsenal games. With the internet then booming in the country, we managed to gain reputation and spread our fanbase all over Indonesia. Currently, we have about 4,000 members and over 70 regional groups scattered all over Indonesia. During our last annual national gathering in 2012, about 700 Gooners participated.
The majority of our members follow and support Arsenal because of their principals, the way they play and the Club’s traditions, which for us is makes the bond among us stronger compared to other supporters clubs.
The majority of our members follow and support Arsenal because of their principals, the way they play and the Club’s traditions, which for us makes the bond among us stronger compared to other supporters clubs
What events do you organise? Where do you watch Arsenal games?
As a community, we always organise events such as regular football training for members, indoor soccer training for female and male members, annual national gatherings and unique events for our regional groups, as they all have their own specific cultures.
One thing that all regions have in common is arranging TV screenings for every Arsenal match. It doesn’t matter what time the games are, we will always watch the game. Last year we introduced our regional groups to our social activities. Our regional groups conducted social activities like giving blood, book donations and donations for orphanage houses in their own city.
We also try to support the Arsenal foundation and events like BAGBAR. This year we did it in Jakarta and managed to gain good exposure in both the media and among Indonesian Gooners. Hopefully next year we can do it in more cities.
I always watch the Arsenal matches at our base, Gooners Corner. It’s a café in South Jakarta that has been Arsenal-themed by some of our members.
How many of you are hoping to go to the game in Jakarta?
I think about 40,000 to 50,000 people will go to watch the match at the stadium.
When did you become president of Arsenal Indonesia? How proud were you to take the role?
I was elected on 2005 when Arsenal won the FA Cup, so I’ve been president for eight years. I’m very proud to have the role of president. I can meet lots of new and exciting people, express my love for Arsenal and take responsibility for our organisational goals. My biggest wish is that during my time with Arsenal Indonesia, Arsenal will win the league.
How pleased are you with how Arsenal Indonesia has grown?
I'm so pleased with the growth of Arsenal Indonesia and I’m hoping that in the near future Arsenal Indonesia can become an example for other supporters clubs in Indonesia, be run professionally and become the group for all Arsenal supporters in Indonesia.