I was playing for the Rotterdam volleyball team at the Hatta Games sports tournament, an event hosted by PPI (Perhimpunan Pelajar Indonesia) Rotterdam, the Indonesian Students Association in this city. The Hatta Games was one of the three parts of the One Indonesia 2018 event, along with the Hatta Debate and the Hatta Arts Festival. The sports competitions included Basketball, Badminton, Futsal, Table Tennis, Chess, FIFA, Card Games and Volleyball, the very reason I was a part of this event.

My heart thumped against my chest as the point began, and as the ball played over to our side, all I could think was “I really, really want to spike the crap out of this ball and score the last point”. Our team’s setter put the ball high up into the air, and I almost gingerly took the first two steps of my spiking approach. I heard my name yelled out from somewhere in the crowd, spurring me to leap explosively into the air. For a moment, I felt myself suspended in mid-air, able to observe everything from the defensive stances of the opposing team to the fervent expressions of the crowd. The moment passed, and I snapped my arm like a whip, smashing the ball towards the ground. The ball hit the floor with a thump, giving the Rotterdam team the final point to end the set 25-23. There was a thunderous roar from the Rotterdam crowd, as the game would continue for a final set to break the tie.

Your reporter scoring the final point. Image credit: Joshua Kruter

Around 250-300 people were at the event, with a mix of students, competing players, volunteers and spectators. For two days, Erasmus Sport felt like a little bubble of Indonesia. When asked about this, one of the volunteers helping run the event said: “It’s important to integrate and stuff, but so is remembering where you come from.”

I was surprised to see even some parents and their kids, presumably PhD candidates, present and cheering for different games. Fransisca Xaviera, a second year IBA student, said: “I just came here to chill, catch up with old high-school friends and cheer for friends on teams”.

Teams came as part of Indonesian student associations from across the Netherlands, from Arnhem to Amsterdam. Some of the more popular sports like basketball and futsal were packed with experienced players, whereas others had members that just seemed to be there for the fun of it. Guys and girls alike were on the teams; competition wasn’t divided into men’s and women’s games, only into regions. Particularly during the finals, the gym echoed with the cheers of the teams’ supporters, building the hype and competitive atmosphere.

High spirits

Familiar flavours like spiced grilled chicken, fried vegetable balls and sticky rice were available for everyone at the tournament to eat. Up until the final games of the day, everyone’s enthusiastic spirit remained high. People were cheering, dancing on the sidelines, chanting, singing, banging on trash cans in lieu of a drum and having a good time with each other.

As someone who also comes from Southeast Asia, I blended in well with everyone at the event, even if I couldn’t understand any of the Indonesian being spoken. Fortunately, Hilton Khorazon, an econometrics student on my team, was kind enough to teach me “Satu, dua, tiga, Rotterdam!”, or “One, two, three, Rotterdam!”, which allowed me to yell alongside everyone in between points.

Image credit: Joshua Kruter

Beyond sports

The Hatta Games went on for two days, 5 and 6 May. The Hatta Arts Festival took place on the 6th as well, which featured traditional and modern performances by various student members of associations from the Netherlands. The whole “One Indonesia 2018”, built upon the values of intellectual, sport and health and cultural performance is hosted yearly by the PPI. The board has plans to make next year’s events even bigger, and even more international by inviting student associations from Paris and Dusseldorf.

My deepest appreciation goes out to everyone from the Indonesian student associations at the event; thank you for accepting me for a day. I won’t forget what can only be described as one of the most family-like atmospheres I’ve experienced in the Netherlands thus far.