“In the spotlights” is the column about fans introducing their favorite club. It’s not about the size, city, trophies, or current performance, it’s about the passion for the club and its supporters. This weeks club in the spotlight is Persiba Balikpapan from Kalimantan which is currently active in Liga 2. This time it’s up to Rizal to tell us more about this club.
Football Club Persiba Balikpapan
Persiba Balikpapan is the local pride of Balikpapan, East Kalimantan. The club is nicknamed as ‘The Sun Bears’. Named after the jet black ‘sun bear’ native to South-East Asia and, among others, on Borneo.
The club is located in the center of the oil & gas industry of Indonesia and its history dates back to the ’50s. The club’s performances have been unstable since the very beginning, to say the least. Moving up and down between leagues through promotions and relegations. The combination between their geographical location and unstable performances gave them a second nickname: ‘Selicin Minyak aka slippery as oil’.
Eventhough the club performances were never that spectacular. Their supporters are still loyal to the club. The fanatic side of Persiba Balikpapan are called ‘The Ballistik’. Their style of support consist mostly of colorful choreo’s and rhythmically clapping and dancing together in the stands. A true homage to Indonesia’s mania culture.
Ballistik was founded back in 2006. With just a small group of 30 people who gathered to form a support group to make their city heard. The Ballistik group grew pretty fast and can count on about 2,000 official members these days. Back in 2010 they held campaigns by inviting their fellow supporters to help during the construction of the Persiba Stadium. The collective brought the campaign to the attention of their fellow citizens by handing out flyers and peaceful marches trough the city center.
The island of Borneo is divided between Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei. With Kalimantan as Indonesia’s piece of the pie. The division of the island between countries isn’t the only division. Five clubs battle to be the best club from Kalimantan.
Back in the days, the fiercest derby on the island was fought between Persiba Balikpapan and Putra Samarinda (Bali United’s predecessor). Labeled as the ‘Derby Kal(imantan)tim(ur)’ or East Kalimantan derby.
The rivalry started on the pitch but soon extended on to the stands and outside the stadium. Lasting from the ’70s until 2015. The rivalry ended in 2015 when Putra Samarinda’s license was sold to Bali United and was relocated to the island of the Gods. Nowadays the battle for the crown of Kalimantan is mainly between Mitra Kukar, Borneo F.C, and Persiba Balikpapan. Although Borneo F.C. is currently active in the Liga 1, thereby currently the best performing team from Kalimantan. Especially the Liga 2 face-off between Mitra Kukar and Persiba Balikpapan counts as one of the matches of the year for the Ballistik.
Besides rivalries, the Ballistik also build and maintains relationships with several Java-based fans among which: Pasoepati (Persis Solo), Persikmania (Persik Kediri), Panser Biru (PSIS), and Aremania (Arema).
From 1986 until 2017 Persiba played their home games in the cozy Persiba Stadium. A 12,500-capacity stadium that would accommodate for a great atmosphere during home games.
These days the modern Batakan Stadium is the stage for Persiba Balikpapan and Ballistik. Although the stadium is state of the art, the 40,000 seats are too much to fill during Persiba’s home games. You will mostly find supporters on the lower ring during league games. Although you do find a sold-out house once the Indonesian national team or youth games strike down in the city.
When you are on an Awayday you are there to support your team to victory in a hostile city. It also provides the perfect opportunity to dig in the local food specialties! But what is the local specialty you have to try in Balikpapan? Well, that has to be Roti Mantau!
What is Mantau bread? Mantau is traditional soft bread similar to the famous Bapao breads from China. Mantau bread is a local favorite that has been around for ages and a favorite among local tourists to bring back home.
Although regular bapao bread is usually stuffed with meat or chocolate. The Balikpapan’s alternative is purely made from wheat flour without stuffing. Alternatively, they tend to serve their buns with black pepper sauce. Might sound strange at first, but it actually makes one hell of a good snack!