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The Return of Soccer IISSAC

Authors: Ju Eun Song ('25) and Joycelynn Saputra ('25)

Photo Courtesy of JuEun Song

Soccer IISSAC has been hosted every year between six international schools in Indonesia. However, COVID-19 has postponed the tournament for two years, and only this year is making a comeback.

The soccer IISSAC teams will be heading off to Wesley International School in Malang, on October 28th and returning on October 30th. The boys’ goal is to defend the trophy, and the girls will “give their 110% ”, Coach Kelsey Nainggolan said.

Mr. Travis Julian, the school's director and head coach of the boys’ soccer team, told The BAIS Times his goals and dedication for this year’s soccer IISSAC.

“I am excited to see the players play soccer again. Since the players don’t have the same conditions compared to pre-Covid when they had consistent IISSAC seasons, they will do a lot of conditioning and sprints to get back in shape.” Coach Julian continued, I expect the players to grow closer together as a team and become more disciplined. Rather than looking at struggles as failures, I want them to see it as learning opportunities. For the true character of a team comes out when things get hard.”

Photo Courtesy of Ju Eun Song

The practices will be intense and other challenges will come along, but coach Julian ultimately wants the boys to prioritize growing closer as a team. Especially with a two year break, it will be important to have a strong bond among the players.

Seong Hwa Park (‘23), who is the co-captain for the boys’ team and has been playing in BAIS since 2019, adds on to Coach Julian’s idea of growing closer as a team. He emphasized that hard work will help with the team’s teamwork.

“Although conditionings will be tiring and exhausting, it is important for players to do their best, and it helps to build teamwork when you are close and relying on your teammates,” Seong Hwa said.

Coach Kelsey Nainggolan, also known as Coach K, has been coaching the girl’s soccer team for seven years in BAIS. She reported to The BAIS Times about the things she’s looking forward to in the season, as well as some of her goals for this year.

Photo Courtesy of Ji Hun Shin

“Some of my best memories as a child and during my time at BAIS revolve around soccer tournaments but I just can't put the excitement and spirit of IISSAC into words. I'm especially excited simply to be together and make memories with the girls…Obviously, I am competitive and want to win, but no matter the result, I hope the girls know I am always proud of them because of who they are, not just what we accomplish as a team,” Coach K said.

Coach K believes that experience is a part of the sport, no matter the result. She wants the players to try their best and remember that she is proud of them for who they are, not for the accomplishments they make as a team.

Aside from sharing their goals for this year’s soccer IISSAC, coaches and players alike also shared their excitement for soccer IISSAC’s comeback and their thoughts on missing two full seasons. After 2 years without a soccer season, the players who were on the team in 2019 are now some of the older players.

Coach Julian said, “I am excited about being able to play soccer and excited about seeing 11th and 12th graders who were then (2019) middle schoolers. The young team starters and sub-players from two years ago are mostly seniors or high schoolers. It will take time for them to build up the experience that was cut due to Covid. It’s going to take a few weeks or even months to get back into shape, but the true character of a team comes out when things get hard.”

Lionel Putra Hirina (‘25), who joined soccer IISSAC before Covid, also added that he “feel so excited about the return of soccer IISSAC! I’m looking forward to winning every match. I really missed the pressure and intensity of the tournaments, and I’m so happy it’s back.”

Emily Stanford (‘23) is a senior this year and is playing as the goalie. The last time she participated in soccer IISSAC was in 2019 when she was in ninth grade.

Emily shared her thoughts on the two gap years, as well as her goals for her last soccer IISSAC, and said, “The two-year gap season affected the team for the worse. Before, the team had a more robust skill foundation and sense of unity. After the two COVID years, the team is almost entirely made up of new players with great potential but lack some soccer foundations. However, I am optimistic for the group's future since many of the players this year will be around for a long time.”

This is Emily’s second and last year competing in IISSAC. She feels bad about the two off-seasons that lead to the decrease in continuous practice but also feels hopeful for the future because there are many new players on the team.

Both the boys and the girls’ teams consist of many new players, some new to IISSAC and/or new to BAIS. These players have a wide range of expectations for their first soccer season in BAIS.

Joy Kim (‘25), is a tenth-grade student who is new to BAIS. She has never played soccer before, but this year, she is challenging herself to compete as an athlete.

“Since this is my first time playing soccer, being helpful to the team is the most challenging for me because I make lots of mistakes. But I will do my best to contribute to the team. My expectation about IISSAC is that everyone enjoys it, including people who watch and cheer for IISSAC. And one of my biggest goals is to make lots of fun memories with the coaches and players and finish IISSAC without any injuries,” Joy said.

Joy plans on trying her best to improve as a soccer player, while still wanting to make lasting memories from her first IISSAC experience.

Jihun Shin (‘23) is a senior new to the soccer IISSAC team. Similar to Joy, he wants to improve as a soccer player and bond with players from BAIS and other schools.

Jihun said, “This is my first year playing as a soccer player. A challenge for me is that I need to improve on my skills and maintain my stamina because I rested for a couple of years. I am looking forward to building my fundamentals and endurance. I value teamwork as a number one important factor for our team, and it is important to build interactions among the players.”

Although this is their first year being a part of the team, Jihun and Joy are determined to learn to be better team players and build their skills to contribute to the team.

Photo Courtesy of Jefferson Sastra

Not only are the players and coaches excited about soccer, fans are also thrilled about the return of soccer IISSAC.

Many fans have missed the exhilaration of being able to cheer loudly for the players. Mr. Squiers, the secondary English teacher, shared his excitement for soccer IISSAC this year.

I missed the community feel and excitement. It is so fun to see everyone hanging out, watching the games, and cheering on the players. I love to see students I teach being successful beyond the classroom. The teamwork and fun both the boys and girls have is exciting to watch. I don’t typically watch sports on TV or streaming, but since I know the players it’s always fun to watch,” Mr. Squiers said.

Moreover, with the temporary absence of soccer IISSAC, the BAIS community realizes the importance and fun of these big events.

Mr. Squiers further said, "I also hope the games are competitive- that each school has been able to practice and that it is just a fun time of getting together, renewing or making new friendships. Students need something like this. It’s important! Now that this is starting to return, we really start to realize what we have missed. We need to continue to do more activities and allow kids to get back to living normal lives!”

Because of the significance of the event, the athletes and the coaches will make their best out of this season just as they did each year. This year, the BAIS community will finally be able to come together to cheer the soccer teams as they head off to IISSAC.

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