Arthurirawan2 Communitychampion

Arthur Irawan: "A child’s smile is the biggest reward for doing something good"

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Arthurirawan2 Communitychampion
  • Less than three years ago, Indonesian player Arthur Irawan founded Athletes for Good

  • Persik Kediri player encourages not just footballers, but all athletes to give back to their local communities

  • Irawan is concentrating his efforts on Indonesia for now, but hopes to encourage others to take up the initiative elsewhere

"Football is the most popular sport in Indonesia just now, and as players we massively benefit from the support of the communities that we work in. It’s my personal view that we have a responsibility to give back to society in whatever way we can, and be a positive influence upon the communities that we are part of.

The pandemic was a disaster for everyone, and it brought to light just how many people needed help. The combination of that and the extra time on my hands with the suspension of the league here in Indonesia, is really where Athletes for Good started to take off.

It’s not just about donations of a monetary value, but making football a viable part of the ecosystem that supports it – pouring our time and efforts back into the communities we live in. Coaching classes, for example, can bring so much joy to underprivileged kids. Some of them may discover an aptitude for the game, while others may simply have a fun experience – both are valuable outcomes.

It makes me sad to see kids denied the happiness that football has brought me purely because they can’t access a space to play, or don’t have money for boots, or balls or anything like that. Imagine the untapped potential we could have here in Indonesia, if only the next generation were given a chance to shine.

There’s a lot of focus on the entertainment industry, and sometimes our free time can be sapped away getting involved in extracurriculars that aren’t really much to do with the game itself. Athletes for Good encourages sports personalities to invest that energy somewhere that it can make a real difference to the lives of the people around us.

Sometimes it’s just taking the time to think about what our community really needs, rather than just automatically assume that money will solve every issue. There’s an orphanage here that we approached to see if we could lend our assistance, and what they really needed was slippers for the children – so we used our platforms to help secure donations that would deliver the most value, and really got involved with the people we were trying to help.

It's not just about what we physically accomplish ourselves, but the example that it sets for others. If you’re a public figure then you have the power to inspire people with your actions, and you should use this influence to promote positive practices. Even simple things like openly recycling can encourage a chain reaction, and the more of us that get involved – the better.

Sometimes you have to work a bit to know where to start, while other times an issue presents itself to you with such urgency that you know exactly where to direct your efforts. I know I’ve just said that money donations aren’t the most important way to help, but after the earthquake in Kalimantan it was clear that the people were in dire need of relief, and so raising money was the best way we could lend a hand. We ended up doing gimmicky push-ups and squat challenges with myself, Formula 2 driver Sean Gelael, and an Indonesian influencer, and the collaboration raised quite a bit of money.

Now that we’ve got a bit more freedom with Covid restrictions easing up, I’m hoping to get more of my team members involved with coaching clinics here in Java. My focus is very much on Indonesia and my own community at the moment, because unfortunately you really don’t need to look far to see somewhere that your help is desperately needed - but that’s not to say that I don’t want Athletes for Good to spread further afield.

The beauty of it is, that no matter where you are in the world, you are already in a community that could be benefitting from your help. Sometimes, like with Kalimantan’s earthquake, it’s very obvious where you can be of service – but in other situations its perhaps more difficult to know where to start. We’re raising awareness and building the foundations to help not just footballers, but any athletes to do a bit of good in the world. You want to make a difference? Get in touch, and together we’ll find the first step.

Sometimes it feels difficult for one person to make a significant change in the world especially when you have a full-time career to focus on, but by starting locally we can make a tangible improvement for the people around us. I would never have been able to achieve even what I have today without all the other people that have put time and energy into Athletes for Good, and the more that join – the more impact we can have.

You won’t remember every salary that you get paid, but I promise you – seeing a child smile from ear to ear and know that it was because of something you did? You will remember each and every one of them."

In our series #CommunityChampion, we highlight a professional footballer’s activities to help impact the lives of other people in his or her community. Every two weeks, we put the spotlight on another player.

Since 2008, FIFPRO has honoured professional footballers who made a great contribution to a charity through the Merit Award.