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You’ll be hard pressed to go anywhere in Indonesia at the moment without hearing about the ongoing 18th Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang. Almost every Indonesian citizen, young and old, is participating in cheering on their home-grown athletes to achieve victory at the biggest sports event in Asia in 2018.

Competing on an international stage and achieving such success are not easy feats – they require years of preparation and training, which are often provided to prospective future athletes from an early age.

Even then, sporting success can also be due to whether there are quality facilities available to the athletes to train at.

Some young athletes who reside in certain regions, particularly rural areas, may not be as lucky to have access to the sports facilities that they require.

It was with this realization that APRIL subsidiary PT Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper (RAPP) created the Future Athletes Training Centre (PPLAMD) in the Pelalwan Regency in 2007. Launched with the support of the then-Mayor, PPLAMD was established with the goal of providing training to promising young athletes from the local community. The centre focused on three sports which were chosen due to their popularity in the area: karate, badminton, and tennis.

The centre was also part of APRIL founder Sukanto Tanoto’s vision that everyone should have the opportunity to realize his or her full potential.

 

Trophy and medal from the young athletes

Sundari Berlian, Community Development Manager at RAPP, praised the dedication of the 140 athletes who have trained or are still training at PPLAMD, who have had to learn how to find the balance between school and their sports training.

PPLAMD is open to students of all ages, but the majority attend local elementary and high schools.

In the first half of 2017, PPLAMD athletes managed to win a total of 40 medals (19 of which were golds) at domestic competitions, and five medals at international competitions, including two golds.

Most notably, karate athlete Muhammad Zulkifri won a gold medal at the Karate Shoto ASEAN-Japan Tournament in Vietnam in December 2016.

“Our goal for Pelalawan district is simply to have a lot of professional athletes,” Sundari said.

At PPLAMD, the athletes are not only given a place to train, but they are also provided with the necessary equipment as well as help from professional coaches.

“Every sport has its own federation, so we seek professional trainers who are able to further develop our athletes from these federations,” Sudari shared.

At PPLAMD, the athletes undergo routine training every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

“We have a special sport centre where athletes can focus on pure training,” said Sundari.

PPLAMD encourages the athletes to routinely compete at national and international tournaments in order for them to gain experience and to learn from their opponents.

“When athletes join these competitions, especially ones at the international level, they learn a lot about their weaknesses and the coach helps them to overcome them,” said Sudari.

Many of the students at PPLAMD are children of RAPP staff, but the centre is actually open to all members of the local community.

“We will train citizens of Pelalwan District who show potential in their support,” Sundari explained.

With 140 young athletes trained so far, the future sporting success of Pelalawan Regency seems bright.

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