6:29 pm - Friday, May 24 2019

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Today The Netherlands plays Brazil in the world cup.

I know that my European readers will understand what this means, but my Canadian readers may not quite get the implications.  Sure, we go nuts for hockey.  Canada’s game.  National pride.  Yes.  But the effect that World Cup mania has on the people of a nation (especially a small nation) is.  Substantial.  Astronomical.  Ginormous.

One of my students arrived a half hour early for her lesson after work on Monday evening because there was no traffic on the highway.  She said it felt like the city had been evacuated and she’d missed the boat.  Everyone was inside watching the game against Slovakia.  Everyone but her (I actually turned the game off when she arrived).  Not that you actually have to WATCH the game to know what’s happening.  The screams.  The cheers.  The cries.  The honking.  The vuvuzelas.  They all tell the story without having to even turn on the tv.  Let’s not discuss the ORANGE.

Orange van

*Brazil just scored, by the way.*

Most offices have shut early today because of it. I took a stroll around town today as the game started.  Half the shops were shut.  The other half were sparsely staffed.  Today is literally the warmest day of the year.  30 degrees.  Gorgeous.  Yet, the streets were empty and the bars and cafes were packed.

Cremers, the coffee shop just around the corner

It’s actually really cool living in a country that is competing in the World Cup.  I’m not a crazy sports fan, but I do like watching sports at high levels.  Good tennis.  Good hockey.  Good football.  The Olympics.  I’m there.  In fact I only came home from my lovely peaceful stroll so I could watch the World Cup and Wimbledon.  Go Netherlands.  Go Rafa.

*Oh.  I think The Netherlands just scored… nice.*

Down the Oude Molenstraat

And actually being part of a nation that is competing in the World Cup is lots of fun.  I remember living in Toronto during the 2002 World Cup.  And although Canada wasn’t competing (shocker), you could hear the cheers and honks from the different quarters of the city when the various nations scored a goal or won a game.  I felt happy for them.  It gave the city a great vibe and showed just how multinational it was.

In 2006 when I was living in England, Trinidad and Tobago (where I was born) competed in the World Cup.  And although they didn’t go far, I was really rooting for them.  This tiny nation, barely a speck on the map, was good enough and strong enough to play against a footballing (and economic) superpower such as England.  From whom T&T had gained independence in 1962.  And anyone who thinks that sports aren’t about politics, culture, class, geography or history, just spend three seconds in a bar in The Netherlands when the Dutch are playing Germany.  You’ll change your mind.  Quickly.  I was so proud of T&T. Even though they lost.

Cafe Rootz

*Was that another NED goal?*

And I’m proud of The Netherlands too.  Ok, I’m not going to wear orange and cry if the country wins or loses, but I am quietly hopeful for my adopted nation.  I think they don’t have much of a chance against Brazil, but there is hope.  David and Goliath etc.  My Dutch teacher who admits to being gek (crazy) about football, thinks they have a chance.  Slow and steady wins the race, he says.  The Dutch may not have flashy moves and fancy footwork, but they are there to win the game, he says.  That’s all they need to do, he says.

The Plein

And they did!  2-1

Going to watch Nadal beat Murray now.

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