The Search For Indonesia’s First Wonderkid, YouTube – I stumbled upon this show completely by accident. A tweet was sent to me showing a 20 second clip of two retired English professional footballers berating, (in very slowly enunciated, foul mouthed English), a team of young looking Indonesian boys for not being physical enough. I forwarded it on to a group of friends that I used to play football with and asked them if they had any idea what was going on. One sent me a link to the series on YouTube, which had become his quarantine binge viewing and recommended that I check it out. Interest in football throughout Asia is undeniable, but despite holding over half the world’s population, very few genuine football superstars hail from the continent. Interest in the English premier league is huge, so this series follows a scheme sponsored by the Indonesian state airline to improve football talent in the country. It sees former England Internationals go to Indonesia and scout the most talented teenagers. Those selected are brought over to the UK to create a team, (Garuda Select), receive top quality training, and play against the youth sides of English and Italian professional clubs. These games are shown live in Indonesia to millions of viewers, making social media stars of many of the young players. This series on YouTube features quite a lot of footage from the matches, but also documents the whole Garuda Select experience. If you don’t like football, then it probably won’t engage you, but there are some fascinating insights in to Indonesian culture. I’ve been pitched variations on formats searching for the next football star on numerous occasions. I’ve always turned them down as I felt all the effort had been put in to securing access to the professional clubs/players, but very little thought had gone in to what the show would be and why we’d care about the participants. This series cracked that problem, it wasn’t an issue connecting with the boys from Garuda Select as they went through this fish out of water experience. The camaraderie that quickly developed amongst the team, (they didn’t know each other prior), and with the English coaches is touching, meaning you can’t help but route for them against the teams comprised of bigger boys, playing a more physical, and less skilful, game. Several of the Garuda Select team were really impressive young players, so fingers crossed that some of them will go on to make it as professionals.
Watch Report: The Search For Indonesia’s First Wonderkid