By Marcus Chhan in Jakarta
What does it take to become a professional footballer? Some level of skill with the ball is an obvious must but do you also need to have speed with that? Or is just being fit good enough today to land you the chance to test your skills against current professionals like Lionel Messi?
Manchester United legend Roy Keane once wrote in his biography that football was really all about passing the ball to another player, that it could be explained with a simple philosophy: 'pass and move'.
Actually, it's probably a little more complicated than that and my latest football journey across the region to Jakarta with Nike 'The Chance' has certainly re-opened my eyes to some of the realities about football.
"Training is as important as playing the game."
It may seem like an obvious statement when it's staring you in the face in bold; yet most of us often forget about it. We all want to improve our game, that's a given, but for us it's more a situation like 'give me the ball and I'll show you what I can do' instead of 'I'll just keep jumping on the spot so I can eventually leap higher'.
It's a lesson which finally hit home for 30 Indonesian boys as they went through their final round of intense training before Friday's Country Finals for Nike 'The Chance' where only five of them will be selected to compete in next month's Regional Finals.
On Thursday morning, Indonesia's shortlist of 30 was put through their paces with a 7-a side game complete with Nike's GPS testing. You might ask, why not 11 vs 11?
"Football now is a fast pace game with many touches," Nike's Director of Elite Training for SE Asia, Siva Shanker Jayaraj explained to ESPNSTAR.com.
The players are equipped with a little chip which converts what the player does during the 7-a side game into numbers which coaches can then use to look at things like speed, power and the number of sprints a player does or his average speed.
"If you're a midfielder and you've only done three sprints in 30 minutes, for example, and a high level is at 25; it tells you a lot. [The data] tells you that he [as a midfielder] is not going for the ball enough or not running into space," he said.
The 7-a side GPS testing was just one component of Thursday's training in Jakarta at GMSB Kuningan which is a private sports complex. There are two more parts to Nike's Elite Training model - one based on fitness training while the other has to do with skills training.
Nike say that their Elite Training system combined with input from coaches allows them to get a "snapshoot of a footballer".
Leading the charge for 'The Chance' Indonesia from a coaching perspective is the nation's legendary striker Widodo C. Putro (or the man who scored 'that' bicycle-kick goal against Kuwait in the 1996 Asian Cup).
We spoke to him shortly after the players had returned from lunch following a gruelling morning session with the 7-a side game.
"The quality of the players was quite good," he said with the help of a translator.
"So we are looking forward to see how the rest of the training goes later. It's very promising."
He also added he was sure the five boys which will get selected on Friday will represent Indonesia well at the Regional Finals of 'The Chance'.
Watch: Budding footballers undergo Nike Elite Training... More Videos
One of the boys who has caught his eye so far was 17-year-old Kevin Stefanus. The midfielder has been called the new-Messi by team-mates, but not so much because he has the dazzling skill of the Argentinean, more because the Indonesian teen - in their eyes - bears a striking resemblance to the Barcelona ace.
"I think Nike 'The Chance' is very good for a person like me because it lets me show my skills. I want to be a professional footballer. I want to play in Europe," he said.
"A lot of people say I look like Messi... I play in the same position as him."
Our interest in this young man had started to peak by now. However, later the young-Messi in the making struggled at times with the final two components of the Elite Training - although it must also be noted that he is not a professional footballer and it would be wise to keep expectations at a sane level.
First up on the menu after lunch for the 30 hopefuls was the skills portion of the training. Here four basic skills of speed, touch, control and accuracy were tested at different stations. The stations were named after Nike players who have all excelled in certain areas: Iniesta = control, Ronaldo = speed, Rooney = shooting accuracy and Pique = touch.
For example, to test for the player's inner Pique (touch), he was only allowed to take one touch before hitting the ball some distance into a tightly marked area on the pitch.
If you thought that was tough enough, the 30 boys had to complete the last part of Nike' Elite Training before the sun set - and it was a fitness test. Not just any fitness test but something the sports apparel giant calls 'SPARQ' - an acronym for Speed Power Agility Reaction Quickness.
Everything from testing how a player performs in a 20meter sprint to how fast a player can turn and even how high his vertical leap is was tested.
And to top it all off, they ended the evening running a modified version of a 'Beep Test'. In this version the focus of attention is on how 'fit' the player is at recovering rather than just testing for how long he can run for.
We're not sure how many of the 30 boys from Thursday's session will be good to go for more on Friday at the Country Finals.
But you can be certain that those who really want it will be there.