World Cup Fever : The Netherlands

Note: This was originally posted onΒ Jun 14, ’06 10:46 PM. Some ineptness on my part while importing from an old blog makes this looks like a new post.Β 

I am not a big football fan. I don’t stay up late to catch the latest Premiere League or Serie A games. I don’t really care which team wants to have Beckham or how much Zizou transfer fee was. I support Ajax briefly, but that’s because I live there and they did won the Championship Cup at that time so I get to see the team in its glory before most of the players move camp and transfer to Spain.

However, the World Cup is a different story. First of all, it’s only on once every four years and then there’s something about how each country that makes it is represented by the best player that country can offer. Most of the time majority of the players are spread out throughout European clubs and in this one month they are all gathered under their flag; club-mates become ‘enemies’. Particularly if you happen to live in a country that has a team in competition then the atmosphere becomes magical.

I lived in Amsterdam, The Netherlands in 1994. I just graduated from high school and is anxiously waiting for acceptance from university. I knew that the World Cup is happening in the States but in the midst of exam I didn’t really notice anything until one day it seems that Amsterdam is bathed in het Oranje or orange, the team colour. It was amazing. In Bethovenstraat, my neighbourhood shop street, it seems that every single shop had orange banner and the Dutch flag on display, be it a clothes store, supermarket or the newsstand. I think even the cake shop displayed special cakes decorated in orange. When you go to the city centre, say to Leidseplein, the fever is more evident. More elaborate orange display everywhere. Everyone seems happier too!

One time I have to drop someone at the airport when the next day the Orange is playing. Well, even the airport is not saved from the orange onslaught. Fans queue up to go to America, to Orlando or whatever city they played. They bring with them small drums, tambourines and small trumpets and of course some bits of orange in their clothing. But not the full regalia, that they saved for the match itself. Now, Schipol is one of the largest airport I know and in summer it is usually not a very nice place what with sunseekers running the lines everywhere but just this one time, the football fans turned it into party mood. While they wait they toot their horn, played their drums and sing football anthems. Even the check-in counter people seem to be smiling more than usual.

Back in the city, upon waiting for the match the city centres is now not just bathed but drowned in orange. Orange people everywhere filling the streets and the bars since the afternoon. I decided to watch the games in the comfort of my living room. After all, since I’m not a major fan, being squashed amid drunken oranges is not my idea of fun. So I went home.

Well, if memories served, the Dutch time makes the qualifying round but lost to Germany in the quarterfinals or something. In the end Brazil took the cup that year.

This time around, the dutch team is composed of new batch of young players. No more Gullit, Rijkaard and the twins. Now Marco van Basten has switched costume to that of a coach and he did well so far. The team made it
to Germany and won their first match. Of course there’s 2 more to go before the next round and then few more matches to make it to the finals. Out of sentimental reason I hope they make it to the finals. Here’s to you Oranje!