Football is the most popular sport in Indonesia. Everywhere you look, children are wearing football jerseys, and teenagers are playing football. Many cigarette brands sponsor professional teams, and game coverage. For example, Djarum, an Indonesian Kretek manufacturer sponsored the top football league from 2005-2011, to the tune of over 6.5 million dollars in 2011. (AFF, 2010).
Ega, 24, is in his last semester of college, where he studies economic management majoring in human resources. While he admitted to trying cigarettes as a teenager, he never pursued tobacco because his father does not smoke. “I follow my dad.” Ega is a keen football player and a die-hard Cristiano Ronaldo fan. “He is big, strong and compact, he can jump very high!” I asked him how he would react if Ronaldo took up smoking, and interestingly, unlike most of the young men that football sponsors target, Ega claimed that he would not be impressed. “Even if my idol smoked, I would not think cigarettes were cool.”
Although his friends encourage him to smoke, Ega chooses not to because he knows about the health detriments and “I know I can save a lot of my money if I don’t”. Ega dreams of visiting Times Square when he graduates, and it’s clear that his strong self-efficacy influenced by his parents, and high level of education, is what gives him the strength over his friends to not take up tobacco use. “An individual’s evaluation that they have the physical capacity (to avoid tobacco) will enhance evasion” (Elshatarat, 2016).
Ega believes that due to tobacco’s strong relationship with the football scene, the sport is not as healthy and beneficial as it should be. About half of his team smoke, and spectators are allowed to smoke, even on the indoor courts. “They (the football association) know it’s bad, but want the profit. It’s evil in a way.” I expressed how different sponsorship is in western countries, and how our sportspeople encourage the youth not to smoke, until Ega reminded me that we might not be so different after all. “It’s just like Liverpool though, they promoted Carlsberg, that’s a beer!” Talking to Ega made me realise that tobacco isn’t the only problem, it’s the media and the way sponsorships and advertisements prioritise profit, no matter where they are in the world. He gave me hope though; his intelligence and personal strength is admirable and I can soon see people like Ega inspiring the younger generation.
AFF 2010, DJARUM INCREASE ISL SPONSORSHIP TO USD4.5 MILLION, Asean Football Federation, Indonesia, viewed 21 December 2019, <https://www.aseanfootball.org/v3/djarum-increase-isl-sponsorship-to-usd4-5-million/>.
Elshatarat, R., Yacoub, M., Khraim, F., Saleh, Z., & Afaneh, T. (2016). Self-efficacy in treating tobacco use: A review article. Proceedings of Singapore Healthcare, 25(4), 243–248.