Ramadani Saputra, Jakarta – The hitherto headless Indonesian Archery Association (Perpani) is gearing up to accelerate Olympic preparations as it now has a new chief, Illiza Sa'aduddin Djamal, a lawmaker from the United Development Party. The previous chief, Kelik Wirawan had to leave the association for family reasons in December last year.
Illiza, a member of the House of Representatives' Commission X overseeing culture, history and sports is to lead the association until 2022.
The former Banda Aceh mayor acknowledged that she has little background in sports. However, she said she could make up for that with her political connections.
"In leading a sport association, [we] need political support. I have asked for a blessing from President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo himself and he gave [me one]. I also have talked to the youth and sports minister [Zainudin Amali] and he also gave me his blessing," she told journalists.
"[My position as a Commission X member] is strategic as managing [sports issues] is part of [the Commission's] job in the House. I hope that with my position, it will generate multiplier effects [for Perpani]," she said, adding that one of her reasons for wanting to lead the association was that archery is part of the sunnah (teachings of the Prophet Muhammad).
The deputy head of Perpani's sport development and achievement department, Alman Hudri, corroborated Illiza's solid political connections, saying that she was not new to the organization.
"She was also one of the advisors for Perpani's regional chapter in Aceh," said Alman, who was the acting chairman during the transition process.
The national squad is currently on break after competing at the 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in the Philippines last December. Indonesia won two gold medals in the men's recurve individual and men's recurve team at the biennial event.
Because of the lack of a leader, the national training camp was postponed from January until March. The team also had to give up one try-out in Thailand in March as its preparations would not be adequate.
Team Indonesia is on a mission to secure a spot in the upcoming Olympics by securing the ticket during a competition in Berlin, Germany, in June. Previously, national archery secured two spots in Tokyo in the individual categories thanks to Riau Ega Agatha and Diananda Choirunisa's achievements at the 2018 Asian Games.
"If we could secure the team's ticket in Berlin, we will have the opportunity to compete in the mixed team event [in Tokyo]," Alman said.
The team plans to conduct a one-month training camp in South Korea from the end of March to the end of April, but because of an ongoing threat from the COVID-19 coronavirus, the association is currently reevaluating the plan.