Dick Sudirman was born on April 29, 1922, on Pematang Siantar, North Sumatra, Indonesia. His father, Soemono, was a technical officer at the municipal office of Pematang Siantar. Hailing from a family of sport fans, Sudirman first began playing badminton in his backyard.
When he was older, he moved to Yogyakarta for formal training and began making his mark as a player. He competed in club competitions and was a key player on the winning teams. Eventually, he moved to Jakarta where he continued his winning streak and established himself as a top player in Jakarta. Sudirman’s first major title was the Meiji Setsu Championship in 1943. During the Japanese occupation, Sudirman continued to maintain his position as a top player in Jakarta.
Sudirman pursued his education at the Indonesian Trade Academy and the University of Syracuse. He became the director of PT Tempo, president and director of PT Scanchemie, PT IPI (Industri Pembungku Internasional) and the president of Indonesian Pharmaceutical Companies. Badminton in Indonesia at that time was not very organized. Sudirman had his mind set on changing that with his experience as a badminton player and an entrepreneur. In 1951, several badminton enthusiasts gathered in Bandung to found the Badminton Association of Indonesia (PBSI). H. Rochdi Partaatmadja was the first chairman and Sudirman worked in the capacity of the first deputy.
The following year, Sudirman was elected as the Chairman. Just before the Congress, Sudirman married Mariana Maarruf with whom he would have six children. Sudirman would hold the position of Chairman of PBSI from 1952-1954 to 1961-1963 for six terms and 1968-1971 to 1977-1981 for four terms. He dedicated a total of twenty-four years of ten terms serving as Chairman of PBSI. After his terms as Chairman, he was elected Member of the Board in 1985 but unfortunately died in 1986 before he could complete the term.
Sudirman became increasingly involved in badminton to the point where he was said to have sold his favorite Chevrolet car to finance Team Indonesia’s participation in the final of the 1958 Thomas Cup against Malaya in Singapore. His generosity was rewarded when Indonesia won their first ever Thomas Cup. Indonesia continued their domination at the Thomas Cup until 1979 and won six out of their seven finals. They lost the 1967 Thomas Cup to Malaysia.
Sudirman had an even bigger vision for badminton in Indonesia. In 1973, he became Member of the IBF Board in 1973. He was the second Indonesian after Ferry Sonneville (1961-1965) to have served on the board. After his term as a member of the IBF Board, Sudirman once again followed the footsteps of his predecessor, Sonneville, to become the second Indonesian to hold the position of Vice President of the IBF. His term of 1975-1983 proved to be tumultuous when many countries left the IBF to found the World Badminton Federation (WBF) in 1978. China and eighteen other countries had left the IBF over Taiwan and South African uncertainties. The split weakened the level of top tournaments and negatively impacted the probability of badminton becoming an Olympic sport.
Sudirman used his great relations fostered from his term of Vice-President of the Asian Badminton Confederation to bring the two organizations closer. His long-time partner, Suharso Suhandinata, said, “probably his most memorable contribution could be zeroed in to the event of 28th May 1979 in Bandung” of which Sudirman organized a meeting between the IBF and WBF. The product of the meeting was the formation of a committee to find solutions to the conflict between the two organizations. During that time, Sudirman also managed to organize friendly matches between players of the IBF and WBF to foster good relations. As stated by Suhandinata, the famous meeting in 1979 was widely believed to have paved the way to unity which became a reality on May 28, 1981 when members of the WBF voted in the favour of unification for the sake of the sport. It was exactly two years after the meeting.
The then-president IBF president Stellan Mohlin apparently wanted Sudirman to succeed him but his aspirations were never realized.
Sudirman was quoted saying, "My involvement in badminton is as a mandatory job. Being busy in the world of Pharmacy is just a hobby." Apart from his involvement in badminton, Sudirman was also involved in social activities such as the Lions Club International chapters in Jakarta.
The IBF acknowledged his great contribution to the sport of badminton with the IBF Distinguished Service Award on his 64th birthday, April 29, 1986.
The award did not come a moment too soon. Sudirman unfortunately had high pressure and kidney failure. He was ill for a few months before suffering a stroke and passing away on June 10, 1986 at 10:00 PM, at Pelni Hospital, Jakarta.
After his passing, Suhandinata pushed IBF for the creation of a Mixed Team World Championship and suggested that the trophy be named in memory of Sudirman. He suggested that Indonesia should donate the trophy.
The IBF Council received the proposal in 1986 and the Sudirman Cup became reality in 1988. The tournament was scheduled to be played right before the individual World Championships. The first edition was held in Jakarta, Indonesia, in May 1989. Twenty-eight nations participated and fittingly, Indonesia played against Korea in the final and won 3-2. Team Indonesia took home the Sudirman Cup, a 22-carat gold-plated solid silver memorial to Dick Sudirman. The cup cost 15,000 USD at the time.
Dick Sudirman was inducted posthumously into the IBF Hall of Fame in 1997.
1986 – IBF Distinguished Service Award
1997 – IBF Hall of Fame
BIBLIOGRAPHY & REFERENCES
2009 Sudirman Cup Competition Guide
2013 Sudirman Cup Official Programme
Apa & Siapa (Sabaruddin Sa.)
Badminton – The Complete Practical Guide (Pat Davis)
Encyclopaedia of Badminton (Pat Davis)
Guinness Book of Badminton (Pat Davis)
Histoire du badminton (Jean-Yves Guillain)
-- By Yves Lacroix