#Asia This startup aims to give a voice to Indonesian futsal league – here’s how they do it

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Despite popularity, futsal is almost invisible on mainstream Indonesian media. Bolalob aims to change that

2016-05-19

Football remains the number one sport in Indonesians’ heart, but when it comes to the sport that they actually play, its ‘little brother’ futsal is the real champion.

“In Jakarta alone, the number of futsal centres grew from 100 to 150 in less than two years since the sport entered Indonesia … We have even begin to see high school students who pick universities based on the availability of futsal scholarships,” says Bolalob VP of Community Audry “Ijod” Sianturi during a media session.

Its convenient nature (futsal only requires five players per team instead of eleven, and is played in indoor fields that is smaller than a football field) makes it a great fit for urban societies, though it is also gaining popularity in rural areas.

“Even in the country, badminton fields are being transformed into futsal field. Locals are also beginning to hunt for futsal players’ jerseys,” he added.

Despite its growing popularity, futsal remains almost invisible in mainstream Indonesian media.

“We started out in 2012 as an online platform for football fans, just like everybody else. Meanwhile, we play futsal on daily basis. Then we began to notice the growing trend, and the lack of discussion [in media],” Ijod explains the reason of their pivot.

Bolalob is available as a dekstop site and a mobile app, which beta version has just been launched earlier this month. While its desktop version only features news feed (with 90 per cent focus on national league), the Bolalob app provides other features such as competition livestreaming and discussion forum.

It even allows users to set up a personalised news alert on topics they are interested in.

“We are also working on a feature that allows fans to interact with professional players … And a feature for user generated content, which allows users to upload articles themselves,” Ijod explains.

Currently run by a team of 12, Bolalob is a subsidiary of Global Visi Media, a portfolio company of GDP Venture.

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Bolalob VP of Community Audry

Bolalob VP of Community Audry “Ijod” Sianturi (second from right) with futsal players and coach

As a startup, Bolalob aims to foster change in national sports scene by giving voice to futsal athletes.

It has signed up Fithri Syamsu, a player in the national ladies futsal team, to provide vlog contents on their platform. She will create and broadcast contents such as tutorial and profiles of ladies futsal players.

“There are many girls who are so good that can qualify to play in national league, but talent scouts are unable to reach to them due to lack of exposure,” she says.

Helping athletes to get the recognition they deserve is one thing that Bolalob is proud of.

“We even started to received calls from teams in Vietnam and Thailand, looking for contact numbers of players whose profiles they see on Bolalob. There are also coaches from Spain, Middle East, contacting us to look for job opportunities here,” Ijod says.

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Bolalob currently partners with 16 professional futsal clubs, and it claims to have secured 5.5 million page views and 547,000 unique monthly visitors.

When asked about future plan, Ijod revealed the startup’s plan to expand nation-wide by launching sister channel Bolalob Regional, which will focus more on futsal scene in cities outside of Jakarta.

“The idea for a more localised version of Bolalob actually came from our readers themselves. Many of them had offered themselves to become our correspondents,” Ijod says.

Ijod says the startup does not fear any upcoming competition from newcomers that aim to get a piece of their cake.

“Our hope is actually to have more media covering futsal,” he closes.

 

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