Stories

Untold Stories, Southeast Asian Clubs: Indera SC, Brunei

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“We need FIFA to come and look at the situation on the ground and try and help football in Brunei because we have a lot of potential.”

That potential is being hampered in a nation where a greater emphasis is often placed on educational achievements rather than sporting ones, but the disorganisation of the league and clubs often doesn’t help the situation.

Indera SC, themselves, have been right at the centre of several of those incidents, starting with a match last November against the under-21 national side, Tabuan Muda, which plays in the Super League.

After Indera, remarkably, had three of their players sent off the referee abandoned play in the 61st minute, mistakenly believing that as they only had eight players left the game must automatically be halted.

Indera appealed the decision and earned the right to a replay but that too was abandoned after Tabuan Muda, for reasons still unknown, arrived with only eight players in further farcical scenes.

Then, in the second match of the current season, Indera’s clash with Kasuka FC was called off at halftime with the match officials reportedly fearing for their safety.

With the referee sending off Indera’s Hardi Bujang two minutes shy of the break for what the club believed was a provocative action by the opposition, a host of players and officials became involved in a large melee as tempers ran out of control.

When that then spiralled to include sections of the Indera supporters, the match officials fled to the safety of the dressing rooms and immediately abandoned the fixture.

The current Indera SC squad

The club was slapped with a two-match ban and with a series of rolling appeals still underway, Indera are sitting in some kind of a holding pattern until they know the outcome. They are yet to play another match since that late March upheaval.

INDERA SC CREST

The colours depicted are those of the royal family, with Indera itself being a name with regal connotations.

For a club known as the Real Madrid of Brunei it’s a very Madrid turn of events: from titles, to sideline eruptions, accusations of misconduct and bans.

Haji Omar though maintains he’s merely focused on completing the season, whenever that may be, and trying to continue developing a group of players which are, like the rest of those in the country, all amateurs.

Whilst Indera pays more than most clubs in the Sultanate, the average wage of around US$170 (S$230) a month is not enough to prevent the players from having to hold down fulltime jobs outside the game.

That’s another reason why the coach believes the country needs help from abroad.

“We have to give these players hope that they can have a future in the game, we have to spread our wings internationally and make sure that things are run properly; even after the ban we said we would play in this or that tournament and then nothing happened.

“That’s why I believe in what we are doing with the PIP academy and with around half the current national team having come through that set-up, it shows that we are doing things the right way.”

Haji Omar, whose four sons have all played for the national team at various levels, said it’s his aim to continue trying to put Bruneian football on the international map and he has a decent role model that he’s looked to for guidance on that quest.

“I’ve long admired the work that Alex Ferguson did at Manchester United, his style of man-management and how he managed to have a group of big players all working together – and that’s my aim too.

“I try to take a little bit of my thinking and his philosophies and mix them together and hope that works out because he really just had a big capacity to fight.”

With several clubs displaying a more literal reading of that fight amidst the background of an amateur league emerging from the shadows of an international ban, it remains to be seen just how long it is before football in Brunei can truly say it is back on the right path.

Photos courtesy of Indera SC