The men’s final of this year’s Homeless World Cup will represent not just a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the players participating from finalists Mexico and Chile, but for the man in the middle too.
That man is Jaka Arisandy from Indonesia. His appearance at the 2018 tournament is his third as a referee, following on from Oslo in 2017 and Glasgow in 2016.
Before the final, he told us a little more about his involvement with the Homeless World Cup programme—one that has changed his life in many ways.
“I come from a broken home, and this caused me many problems with my family. I don’t have any brothers or sisters to look up to so I started using alcohol and drugs to forget about my problems.
“My friends encouraged me to join the Rumah Cemara programme back home. They helped me solve my problems and subsequently picked me to represent Indonesia as a player at the Homeless World Cup in Amsterdam,” he says.
Arisandy captained his side to victory in the Amsterdam Cup, and he has fond memories of his time in the Dutch capital.
“As a player, my experience was fantastic. Our team won a trophy during the competition, and to lift the trophy with them was an amazing feeling,” he says.
Arisandy believes that his involvement at the tournament and within his country’s street soccer programme meant that he was able to reunite his family.
“The purpose of me taking part in the Homeless World Cup was to try and make my parents get back together again. They almost separated. But thanks to my participation in the Homeless World Cup they got back together and they still are,” he says.
On his return to Indonesia, he joined up with Rumah Cemara to coach players who found themselves going through similar problems to those that he had—a role he continues to this day.
However, the visit of the International Referee Team in early 2016 to Indonesia—headed by Dutch international referee Paul Nagtegaal—put him on a path to becoming a Homeless World Cup official.
“In 2016 Paul came to Indonesia to run a course for referees for the Homeless World Cup, and I took part in the course. After completing the course, I was invited to become a referee the same year at the Homeless World Cup in Glasgow, Scotland,” he says.
Now Arisandy helps run the FIFA’s Football for Hope programme back in Indonesia, in the knowledge that football has helped turn his life around and allowed him to progress as a person.
“I think football changed my life. Because before, I didn’t know what I wanted to do in life. I only wanted to play football. I could only play football. Now, thanks to the programme, my life is very different. In Indonesia I have work and I am studying economics,” he says.
With regards to his participation as referee for the men’s final for the Homeless World Cup, he has the support of his friends and family back home.
“When I was told I would referee the final I was amazed and a little bit nervous. I feel pressure as it’s my first time refereeing the final of the Homeless World Cup so I have to do the best I can and enjoy the experience.
“I’ve been speaking to all my friends and family and they’ve told me that they are very proud of me,” he says.
As a final thought, from his own experiences, Arisandy believes others can follow suit: “I think I can be an example for anyone that you can do anything if you want to.”
Words: Craig Williams
Image: Anita Milas