Australian Robbie Gaspar remembers the moment he realised Indonesia’s football passion ran deep and was absolutely world class.
In June 2006, after finishing a club game in remote Bolamongondo six hours north of Manado, he was on the team coach driving in the middle of the night through tiny towns and villages as they negotiated the long way home in a remote area.
“Yet everywhere you looked, in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night, there were flags of the nations playing in the World Cup over in Germany,” Gaspar, now 38, tells FTBL.
“I couldn’t believe, I thought this place is unreal. The passion for football is unrivalled.
"They are football mad.
"I was there in 2010 when they made the final of the Suzuki Cup and it was like a World Cup Final, such was the passion and fervour.”
Gaspar, who now works for Australia’s PFA, has deep connections to South-East Asia and Indonesia in particular.
He played in Malaysia before seven years up till 2012 in Indonesia and believes an Indonesia Australia World Cup bid could be a spectacular success.
And it’s not just the insane passion for football in Australia’s near neighbours.
Indonesia has moved ahead on the infrastructure side while its economy continues to grow, he explains.
“Indonesia playing a World Cup game at the Bung Karno in Jakarta, they could sell it out 10 times over. It will be extraordinary," adds Gaspar.