Jakarta (ANTARA) - Deputy for Sports Achievement Improvement at the Ministry of Youth and Sports (Kemenpora) Surono underscored the importance of cooperation related to increasing sports achievements between Southeast Asian countries (ASEAN).

"The cooperation that has been established so far has been going well, sustainable, but needs to be sharpened, especially for the leading sports at the Olympics, because ASEAN countries' Olympic rankings are still not high," Surono told ANTARA on Monday.

Hence, he emphasized that strengthening preparations to bag gold medals at the biggest sporting event in the world is deemed necessary, so that they can go in line with increasing sports achievements, both for Indonesia and the region.

"We will see which sports have the potential to win medals at the Olympics. We encourage collaboration with ASEAN countries, such as in rock climbing, weightlifting, and badminton. Those are the medal opportunities and countries in the region. This has already shown (achievements)," Surono said.

"Well, how can athletes from sports, who have won medals, be developed in the future, so that every ASEAN country can have a tradition of winning medals at the Olympics," he added.

Although the main goal of developing athletes is to win the Olympics, Surono said that cooperation between ASEAN countries in popular sports, such as soccer, is also closely intertwined, such as collaboration between the ASEAN and FIFA.

The collaboration includes, women's soccer program, soccer curriculum development in schools, and protection of children in soccer to the implementation of the Video Assistant Referees (VAR) in regional competitions and other initiatives.

Moreover, Southeast Asian countries have carried out the process of proposing of the co-organization of ASEAN as the host for the 2034 FIFA World Cup.

"This requires close cooperation. We will check the follow-up and details again, whether it is on track or still in the form of planning," Surono said.

Meanwhile, in 2023, it is the fifth time that Indonesia holds the ASEAN Chair, with the theme of "ASEAN Matters: Epicentrum of Growth," that indicates its keenness to maintain ASEAN's importance and relevance to the ASEAN community and the world.

Indonesia is eager to turn ASEAN into a region that has an important role, for regional countries and the world, both playing a central role as the driver of regional peace and prosperity.

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Translator: Arnidhya Nur Zhafira, Cindy Frishanti Octavia
Editor: Tia Mutiasari
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