Contributor: Saemah Shamim | Editor: Supriyono
A football team consisting of international students from Universitas Islam International Indonesia (UIII) won a friendly football match against their counterparts from the neighboring Universitas Indonesia (UI). Held on November 25, 2023, at the UI Stadium in Depok, West Java, the UIII’s team brought home the victory after beating the opposing team with a 1-0 score.
Despite the triumph, the game was not about winning or losing. Initiated by both universities’ international student associations, the match was aimed at fostering camaraderie and strengthening ties between the two student groups. It promotes physical well-being, unity, and teamwork whilst creating an exhilarating atmosphere that encourages healthy competition and tightens student bonds.
The match began at 19:00. The sound of cleats hitting the ground reverberated around the stadium while the moon shone brightly, full of expectation, after a heavy rain. The green field promised to be an exciting battleground, as the exchange of yells and cheers could no longer be avoided by the audience.
The whistle blew.
Both teams moved cautiously, looking for gaps in the other defense. There was an electrifying atmosphere created by the crowd's cheers and gasps every time the team they supported was nearly making the goal.
As the first half of the game came to a close, it was MS Jallow of UIII who left his mark on the story of the game. Jallow’s powerful long-range shot reached the rival’s net, catching UIII players and supporters by surprise. Happy cries erupted from the UIII camp.
Time for a break.
The second half then began. Brimming with activity, goalkeepers were put to the test as both teams traded opportunities. The UI team strived to retaliate, though they could not break the UIII’s team defense till the end of the game. Despite the second half of the game being tense, the scoreboard would not budge from 1-0.
The final whistle blew. The stadium erupted in cheers, players hugged, and joy was floating in the air.
The hero of the moment, MS Jallow, an MA student of Economics from The Gambia, modestly ascribed his success to supernatural power, adding that the victory was a result of concerted efforts from both the players and the technical team.
“It's Allah who gives me strength […] I dedicate the goal to the entire team. A special thank you to the university’s International Office for the assistance and the International Student Association for enabling the environment for students to carry academic and sporting activities on campus,” Jallow expressed after the game.
The joyful atmosphere was contagious. Islam Karem from Egypt, a UIII student of Social Sciences, put it best: "It was exciting and tense. We were proud of UIII since they had the upper hand.” Meanwhile, Malika from Uzbekistan, an economics student, joined in by adding: "UIII had my support. Despite not being a lover of the sport, the atmosphere was energetic and enjoyable.”
For other students, the match offered a much-needed break from the hectic academic schedule that followed midterm exams. Wasif Mehdi, an enthusiastic Pakistani MA in Economics student, expressed his happiness with the game and noted how it provided a nice diversion from the demands of rigorous coursework.
Meanwhile, the Vice President of UIII’s International Students Association, Musa Bah, reinforced the sentiment by stressing the importance of the event in strengthening ties between the two universities in general and between international students at UI and UIII in particular.
“It was more than just a match. It turned into a chance to present UIII to a larger audience positively. The football pitch was turned into a stage where the friendships and competitive spirit blended to create an event that was felt long after the last whistle blew,” he said.
Beyond the final result, the game served as a moment in time of friendship and sportsmanship between universities participating in a football competition. Players and spectators from various backgrounds came together on the field to show respect and gratitude for one another.