Terens Puhiri: Flash in the PAT

 

Indonesian sensation Terens Puhiri, nicknamed The Flash, has been impossible to ignore since his arrival at Port. Whether it’s his miniscule frame, his enormous fan base or his searing pace, Terens has been one of Port’s most-talked-about new arrivals, despite the fact that his Port career to date has consisted of two injury time substitutions and zero touches of the ball. It helps, no doubt, that he is the sort of guy who, rather than taking the quiet route out of PAT Stadium, will happily walk out of the front door, even if that means thirty minutes of selfies with the fans. It also helps that he achieved global fame in late 2017, with an incredible goal going viral and drawing comparisons with some of the fastest footballers in the world.

In our deep dive in to Terens’ career though, we’re going to look past the grinning Instagrams and viral videos to see how the man from the semi-autonomous region of Papua made it from Jayapura to Khlongtoey.

 


 

His story starts in Papua, the largest province in Indonesia, where Terens was born in 1996. An area rife with conflict between indigenous peoples and the Indonesian Government, its’ native Papuans are ethnically, linguistically and religiously distinct from most of their countrymen. Often with darker skin, curly hair, speaking any one of hundreds of distinct languages and more likely to practice Christianity than Islam, Papuans – despite their incredible diversity – have a distinct identity which is a source of pride for many.

In football terms, two of Papuas favourite sons are Terens and the man he is often likened to, Boaz Solossa. Solossa is a hero in his home province, having scored a remarkable 163 goals in 247 games for local side Persipura Jayapura, as well as 14 goals in 47 games for the Indonesian national team.

 

 

When a 10 year old Papuan, one of three siblings to a single mother who worked as a housekeeper, started collecting and selling aluminium cans to raise the money to buy his first football, who would have thought he would one day go on to rival his hero for fame both at home and abroad? Terens would play football nearly every day after school with his friends, and after some practice he was convinced enough of his own ability to go on trial at SSB Numbay Star Papua. At just 10 years old and approximately knee high to a grasshopper, Terens was rejected for being too small, but his resolve was only strengthened and he came back again the next year, when he was finally accepted in to the academy.

 

 

Just one year on, at 12 years old, Terens – playing at that time as a striker – top-scored in the 2008 Danone League, and within another two years he was selected for the Indonesia u16 team, where he was moved on to the wing. Terens would go on to visit Thailand and Myanmar in various international youth tournaments, while SSB Numbay Star Papua were helping put the youngster through high school. He would water plants, clean the yard and help wherever he could to earn his keep.

 

 

In another 3 years, Terens had finally achieved his dream and had been picked up by a professional outfit. The team was Persisam Putra Samarinda in East Borneo, and at just 17 years of age Terens was put in their u21 team. In his second year with the club, though, Persisam collapsed and were moved to Bali. Most fans of the now disbanded Persisam would not go on to support the rebranded Bali United, but would instead switch allegiance to the more local Borneo FC, who had been founded the year before. Terens followed suit, signing a 5 year contract with Borneo FC, for whom he would soon become a first team regular.

 

 

Unfortunately there isn’t a lot of data available from his time with Borneo FC, as Transfermarkt Indonesian statistics are only available from 2017 onwards, but what little I have looks very useful indeed. Terens notched 6 goals and 10 assists in 31 games as his team went on to finish eighth in Liga 1.

What’s even more pleasantly surprising than Terens’ excellent return in 2017 is his apparent versatility. The first four games of 2017 saw him start in four different positions across the attack, and Terens even started once in central midfield, scoring a goal and providing two assists as his team ran out 3-2 winners. His best work seems to come from the right hand side though, which is where he will likely be playing for Port.

 

 

Indeed, the viral video which catapulted Terens to worldwide recognition saw him starting on the right wing, giving up an enormous headstart to an opposition defender but somehow beating him to the ball, before rounding the keeper at breakneck pace and slotting in to an empty net.

 

 

Then there is this excellent highlights package of his goals, assists and skills in 2017, which shows that he’s more than just a speed-merchant. Terens is no Pakorn, but he’s got a pretty useful right foot, delivering some quality crosses from the by-line, which make up quite a few of his 10 assists. Perhaps the most striking part of his game is how difficult he makes life for defenders, though. Terens is tireless, constantly nibbling away at his opposition full-backs, not giving them a moment on the ball and on a few occasions picking their pockets and creating a scoring chance.

This is the part of his game that Port will be most interested in, too, as Terens is set to play the role of impact sub in 2018. Unfortunately for those Indonesians following Port to keep up with Terens’ progress, as promising as he is, he’s not going to be starting many games for Port this season as long as Pakorn, Nurul and Bodin are fit. All three possess qualities which Terens is just not yet able to match, so he will have to wait for his chances from the bench or in cup competitions and try to impress as much as possible when he does get a run-out.

 


 

I must admit to having had my doubts about Terens, thinking that he was probably a bit of a one trick pony, but having learned more about the 21 year old Papuan sensation, I’m more enthused by The Flash than ever before! A hard worker, a crowd favourite and the best thing to come out of Indonesia since the Balinese Goddess of Plenty, here’s hoping that Port give Terens a chance to prove that he’s more than just a Youtube sensation. Looking at all the obstacles he’s overcome to get to where he is today, I certainly wouldn’t bet against him!

 

Tom Earls

Tom Earls

Having moved to Thailand aged 10, Tom has been playing or watching football in Thailand for more than 18 years. A keen follower of the Thai National Team and an avid fan of Port FC, he is a regular contributor to The Sandpit.

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