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Spreading the love for Indonesian football culture


Geoffrey Castillion – New challenge in Indonesia

Striker Geoffrey Castillion arrived at Persib Bandung in 2020. He made a remarkable transfer from one of the safest competitions…

By Awaydays Asia , in Interviews , at July 3, 2020 Tags: , , ,

Striker Geoffrey Castillion arrived at Persib Bandung in 2020. He made a remarkable transfer from one of the safest competitions in the world to one of the most dangerous. He and his team had a dream start in the competition, winning the first three matches of the season but unfortunately the competition got suspended due to the outbreak of Covid-19.

Geoffrey Castillion has seen quite some football competitions in his career so far. After making his debut as a pro for Ajax at the age of 19, he gained experience on loan for RKC, Heracles, and NEC in the Dutch Eredivisie. In 2014 he made his first move abroad and joined the American club: New England Revolution

That’s what kick-started his existence as a footballing globetrotter. He played with varying degrees of success for clubs in Holland, America, Romania, Hungary, and Iceland before joining Bandung’s Persib. We sat down and spoke with Geoffrey about his football adventures and what it feels like to play in the Liga 1 Indonesia.

This is the story of Geoffrey Castillion.

Geoffrey Castillion - Not Afraid for a challenge
Geoffrey Castillion as a youth player for Ajax Amsterdam. (Picture:Proshots)

I’ve been playing football abroad since I was 22. I’ve got 2 kids and a girlfriend who all live in the Netherlands. I got my first child when I was 23 so he has seen a lot of the world already. He has been to Romania, Hungary, and Iceland with me. I don’t know if he will remember those places when he will be older haha. When my second kid was born in 2018 we made the decision to let them grow up in the Netherlands to go to school there, so that means my girlfriend is permanently in Holland.

I already had the desire to play in Asia as I was looking for a new adventure on unknown territory.

After 3 years my contract in Iceland ended, I was looking for a new challenge. At the time I ended the relationship with my agent but his former assistant (who went solo) contacted me about a possibility to play in Asia. I immediately said yes and before I knew it, I was on a plane to Indonesia. I already had the desire to play in Asia, since I’ve already played in Europe and North America. This was a great opportunity for a new adventure and to see a different part of the world.

I joined Persib while they were at training camp to get to know the players, the staff, and to prove myself during training. I had difficulties adapting to the heat and I had a major jetlag. I got along pretty quickly with the coach and the squad and I then played my first practice match with the team. I played around 60 minutes and scored 2 goals so that was a nice way to introduce myself to the team and the supporters.

Once the rumour spread that I was going to join Persib Bandung, A lot of supporters started contacting me with nice messages that they wanted me to join their club, and after those 2 goals in that practice match, my Instagram account exploded!

I had difficulties adapting to the heat and had major jetlag. But after those 2 goals my Instagram account exploded! A completely new experience for me.

That was a completely new experience for me. What I really value about the supporters is the fact that they are really humble and respectful when approaching players. That’s a completely different mindset compared to the supporters in Holland for example.

Geoffrey Castillion - Celebrating his first goal for Persib Bandung
Castillion celebrating his first goal for Persib Bandung. (Picture: Persib Bandung)

So far, our supporters have been great. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that we have not lost a match yet this season. I can’t say for sure what will happen when we lose a match haha, but right now the support is incredible. Like I said, before Indonesia, I played in Iceland, the support was a bit lacking there. But you can’t really blame them as there are a lot of clubs, but the country only has a population of about 350.000 people.

So far our supporters have been great. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that we have not lost a match yet this season. I can’t say for sure what will happen when we lose a match haha

So the support definitely stands out for me so far and I think we gave them a great start in the league this year! I’ve only experienced this amount of noise in the Dutch league before. I think it’s beautiful how passionate they are. People from Europe have no idea how big Indonesian football is. The supporters live for the game and their club. Besides that, I really respect the young Indonesian players, who always give 110% during both games and practice.

It depends on the distance but when we have an awayday we’d leave maybe 2 days in advance because Indonesia is huge. When we are in another city, we are usually free to go anywhere we want. But since I play for Persib Bandung we have to be careful in some cities. If you don’t support Persib, you are usually against Persib. For instance, when we went to Malang we were only allowed to leave the hotel with security and we had to wear our own clothes. They told us to be careful as you never know what will happen. Crazy right?

We were only allowed to leave the hotel with security, and we had to wear our own clothes. Because you never know what will happen. Crazy right?

Those things don’t throw me off as I don’t ever get nervous anymore. For me, it doesn’t matter if I play for 30 or 30.000 people. Before the game, it is amazing to see the crowd but when the game starts, I am focused on the game itself. After the match, it’s incredible to look at the happiness of the crowd if you’ve won. When I was younger, I used to get a lot more nervous though. I think it’s important just to focus and play your own game. You have to take risks in order to win matches.

My first official match for the League was against Persela Lamongan. I was still getting adjusted to the climate. The coach pressured me and Luiz before the match a little bit. I think we handled that pressure pretty well because he scored 2 goals and I scored 1 goal that match. It was a great feeling for us to make the difference for the team during that game. This doesn’t mean we can sit back and relax. We have to stay focused, work hard, and do everything in our power to win the games.

Geoffrey Castillion - Not afraid for a challenge
Geoffrey Castillion celebrating a goal for Persib Bandung. (Picture: Persib Bandung)

The first away game of the season was against rival Arema Malang. Last year the supporters threw a brick through the window of our bus and injured on off our players, the club took extra precautions. We had to go to the stadium in an army tank. The trip itself was unpleasant, it was bloody hot. When we entered the pitch, we heard the noise from the Arema-supporters, I couldn’t understand what they were screaming, but I’m sure it wasn’t friendly haha. We won that match with 1-2, this send the home supporters in a frenzy. During the game you can already see them climbing the fences and after the final whistle, you hope they don’t invade the pitch.

We had to wait on the pitch for the supporters to calm down before we could leave the pitch. After we changed to our normal clothes, we left the stadium by tank again. You could hear big bangs on our tank, I looked out of the window and saw a lot of angry supporters throwing rocks at us. Even though this sounds extreme, we are protected well, so we’re never scared something will happen to us.

Persib Bandung players arriving by tank for the match against Arema
Persib Bandung players arriving by tank for the match against Arema (picture: Awaydays Asia)

Last year the supporters threw a brick at our bus and injured on of our players, the club took extra precautions. We had to go to the stadium in an army tank.

On the 15th of March I played my last game and most difficult match for Persib so far, against Sleman. It was Persib’s birthday so there was a lot of pressure on us to perform well. Our coach told us we needed to focus and that it was important that we won this game, for Persib and the supporters. About 2 minutes into the game we already conceded a goal. Luckily for us we regained our strength and I managed to score the 1-1 which was a nice feeling really. After a bad second half we managed to win the game two to one and celebrated the win with the supporters. They made beautiful banners to celebrate the club’s birthday and we where delighted to give them this victory as a birthday present.

Persib Bandung police escort to Arema Malang
Persib Bandung police escort fot the match against Arema Malang(Picture: Awaydays Asia)

After that match, the competition was shutdown due to the outbreak of the Corona virus. A really strange and uncertain time as for all of us. We will have to wait for the government and the PSSI to see how and when the remaining games of the season will be finished. The latest updates are that the training will restart soon, so that’s good news! Since the outbreak of this COVID-19 crisis, I’ve been itching to play football again! I really hope the competition will be resumed as I am really looking forward to our away-game against Persija Jakarta in Gelora Bung Karno. I heard the rivalry is unparalleled, and the stadium fills up with 80,000 supporters. Must be a once in a lifetime experience to play there.

Geoffrey Castillion’s message to the Persib supporters:Aku akan segera bertemu lagi, akhirnya akan dimulai lagi, aku akan segera datang ke Bandung dan kita akan memiliki tahun yang hebat dan mudah-mudahan kita akan menjadi juara!”

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