Taufik Hidayat has proven that not all athletes and ex-athletes want to hold positions so that they can travel and talk for the rest of their lives. Some, like Taufik, are ready to invest and see their sport reach greater heights.
Athletes like Taufik deserves to be called icons and should be leaders. Less talk, more action.
Just because Taufik Hidayat (picture) resigned from the Indonesian national team training camp and turned professional last year does not mean that his life is any less hectic.
In fact, busy is just how the former world and Olympic champion wants to be.
Competition alone does not drive Taufik anymore. His plans to build the Taufik Hidayat Arena, a 6,600 square meter sports complex in Kelapa Dua, Ciracas, East Jakarta, are set to begin after three years of preparation.
The 28-year-old wants to realize his long-time dream of managing his own training camp for talented youngsters. However, he said the arena’s proposed location, a five-minute drive from the Indonesian Badminton Association (PBSI) training camp in Cipayung, was only a coincidence.
“I don’t mean to be the PBSI’s competitor. Actually, I want to help the PBSI to boost the players’ regeneration by creating more talented players through my project,” the 2004 Athens Olympics gold medalist and 2005 world champion told the Jakarta Globe on Monday in an interview at his home in South Jakarta.
“As we all know, Indonesian badminton is going through a rough season. I grew up with badminton and live from it. I think it is time for me to dedicate myself to a better Indonesia.”
Designed by M. Ridwan Kamil of Urbane Indonesia, an architecture consulting company in Bandung, West Java, Taufik Hidayat Arena is scheduled to be an asymmetric building with eight badminton courts and two futsal courts. Construction is scheduled to begin in March or April.
The arena’s unusual look was intended to relect his personality, Taufik said.
"I love being different, and the building’s design is different from other badminton stadiums," he said.
When complete, the arena will also include 10 rooms which could be used to house as many as 20 shuttlers.
In order to realize his dream, Taufik and his supporters will need plenty of financial backing. While he refused to reveal the exact cost, he did offer a hint.
“If the land costs Rp 1 million per square meter, I need more than Rp 6 billion for the land alone,” Taufik said. “The money will come from my family, sponsors, donors and investors, as well as my pocket. It’s a big cost.”
Working with his long-time coach, Mulyo Handoyo, Taufik said he hopes to manage a team that is tasked with finding up-and-coming shuttlers in local and national competitions, in addition to those already in his badminton school.
"We will cooperate with sponsors, such as Milo, where I am trusted as its ambassador, to support them. We can offer them scholarships," he said.
Taufik is not about to forget his on-court commitments in the midst of giving back to the sport. In addition to the arena, his other two big projects are to win the All England and Indonesia Open Super Series titles.
Victory in the 2010 All England would end Indonesia’s title drought in that tournament since 2003, when Sigit Budiarto and Candra Wijaya on the men’s doubles championship. The country’s last men’s singles crown came when Heryanto Arbi won successive titles in 1993 and 1994, beating Joko Suprianto and Ardy Wiranata.
Taufik lost in the All England final in 1999 and 2000.
He also said he wants to beat Ardy’s record of seven Indonesia Open championships. Taufik won his home Super Series in 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2006.
While he left the national team in search of more flexibility with his schedule, Taufik said he would be play for Indonesia again — with one condition.
"I won't take a sudden call. They [the PBSI] have to tell me soon whenever they need me, so I can arrange my schedule and prepare myself better," he said. "I also have to discuss it with my family and ask for their permission to join the national team again.”
Demands on his time will be even greater later this year, though this burden may be his happiest of all. Taufik and his wife, Ami Dianti Gumelar, are expecting their first child in June.