With more than 10 years of experience on the field, Persib Bandung midfielder Marc Klok shares his career as a professional soccer player and his decision to become an Indonesian citizen
What comes to your mind when someone mentions the word “sport”? For some, it would be soccer. Team sport is indeed a big thing in Indonesia, especially with huge fanbases and their vivacity, and Dutch soccer player Marc Klok can attest to that. Playing in Indonesia since 2017, Marc has witnessed the abundance of love and celebration for this sport—something that has always been his passion and source of inspiration.
Born in 1993 in Amsterdam, Marc always knew what he wanted to do with life since he was young: that is to play soccer. He reveals that the ball has always been his friend, “Even my first word as a baby was ‘ball’,” he recalls, “Since I was young, it’s always been my passion and my parents encouraged me to develop it even further.” Growing up, he played for an amateur team in his hometown but it wasn’t until he was 12 years old that professional clubs began to invite him to join their clubs. “Utrecht was one of them,” he says, “I remember the day before [officially joining the club], I was so happy because all I wanted to do was to become a professional soccer player and this is the first step to reach my dream.”
Diving deep into professional soccer at a young age presented him with various challenges. For one, he felt greater pressure uponsigning his very first contract, realizing that his hobby has now become a job. “Back then, soccer was just a hobby. You play soccer because you love it but because of this ‘shift’ [in perspective], soccer became something serious and I felt the pressure,” says Marc, “I cannot let myself and my family down. I’ve worked hard all these years for this moment so I have to be better and keep going.”
The challenge, however, didn’t just end there. When he was 17, Marc had an injury that forced him to leave the field for one year, “I got terribly injured, I broke my ankle,” he reminisces, “I started to think, ‘What if I didn’t come back? What if I couldn’t measure up?’. This was really hard, physically and mentally but luckily, I overcame the situation and came back.” Like many of us, Marc believes that new challenges come with every new situation, “But that’s part of life,” he adds.
Marc has played for severalclubs, including Dingwall-based club Ross County FC, Bulgarian club Cherno More Varna, Oldham Athletic and Dundee. However, the year 2017, marked an important moment as he made the big decision to move to Indonesia to pursue his career further.
“I knew nothing about Indonesian football before so I started Googling information about it and I saw a great passion, the big support… I just couldn’t believe it,” says Marc. He joined PSM Makassar, playing alongside fellow Dutch athlete Wiljan Pluim. Since his arrival, he played for three seasons with the club from 2017 to 2019, winning several matches.Marc also began to have new fans and speak Indonesian.
Following his journey with PSM Makassar, the 29-year-old soccer star signed a contract with Persija Jakarta. The pandemic that hit in early 2020 suspended the season and eventually, Marc made the shift to Persib Bandung in 2021, much to Persija fans’ dismay. “I remember my Instagram was full of hate comments. It was controversial but I think it was the right decision to make,” he says. His debut with the Bandung-based club was marked by his scoring the only goal. “We won 1-0 and I scored the only goal. It is such a nice memory after all the controversy and everything,” he adds.
For more than five years, Marc has asserted his status among the greatest players in Indonesia, appearing in more than 170 matches. His vast experiences have also brought him to a new milestone— becoming a midfielder for the Indonesia National team. Marc was also awarded the Best Player in the 2021 Menpora Cup. When asked about his most unforgettable match, Marc reveals that it was between PSM Makassar and Persija Jakarta. “I walked onto the pitch as the captain and I saw the stadium full of 78 thousand people. I was like, ‘This is an unbelievable experience’, and it felt amazing.”
Marc describes the Indonesian soccer scene as passionate and fanatic, “There’s no country in the world where soccer is so passionate and lovely,” Marc says. However, he notes that some aspects need improvements, from the organization to the facilities. He also adds that separating politics and sports is needed, “I don’t know if this will ever change but for me, it will be the greatest improvement point for the soccer scene in the country.”
Marc sees himself as a driven and dedicated soccer player. His achievements are the fruition of his talent and hard work, yet he also credits them to another aspect—a hunger for success. For him, this is one of the aspects a person should have to become a good athlete. “If you are really hungry for victory and to become the best version of yourself, you will eventually succeed, not only in sports but also in life,” says Marc, “I know that I have worked hard and I am hungry for success, and it’s what has brought me so far to this point.”
Being a soccer star, Marc has witnessed his popularity rising but it was in 2020 that he took the internet by storm when he made another big decision: to become an Indonesian citizen. “The Indonesian national team inspired me to take this decision and playing for the national team is such a big achievement and dream for me,” says Marc. The beauty of the country is another reason that led him to obtain citizenship. Indonesia encapsulated Marc on his first visit, “I fell in love with the people, the culture, the weather, the daily life… I feel proud and honored to become an Indonesian,” he adds.
Talking about his plans, Marc is on his way to realizing his foundation: the Marc Klok foundation. With this initiative, he aspires to help orphanages and children in need to have a better future, “I want to offer free education for orphans and children, and give them a chance to dream and provide them with an opportunity to play soccer.” Ending the conversation, Marc shares his greatest hopes for himself and the soccer scene in Indonesia, “I want to stay healthy and grateful every day. For soccer, I hope we can win more trophies and make Indonesia proud of us.” We hope so too!
Photography EANDARU KUSUMAATMAJA
Styling SAFINA HARYS
Styling Assistant BAGOES ABYOSO & ISABELLA HARAHAP
Photography Assistant AHMAD SALIM BARRY
Digital Imaging Artist METODIUS ARFANTYO