Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Oranje


There are several things to like about the Netherlands. I love the dutch language. I really like Amsterdam (there's a lot more to that city than nudge-nudge-wink-wink). Apart from one incident when a dutchman, having caught me leaning against his car -I was doing that to stabilize my camera- called me a "Pakistani" (totally diluting the intended insult in the process), the people there are universally sweet and pleasant. On occasion they've showered me with a lot of adulation. But perhaps my favourite thing about the Netherlands is their football team.

I fell in love with the Oranje when that old show on DD called "The World of Football" featured Johan Cruyff and his brand of Total Football. Even in those grainy video clips the fluid movements of the players in orange was as trance-inducing as a space cake in an Amsterdam café. The addiction has lasted a long time. My fanaticism continued when I was in high school although the only thing I knew about dutch football was what I learnt from the backs of the sport cards that I got free with Champ chewing gums. Even with that limited exposure I was a fan of Ruud Gullit and Marco Van Basten. Later on, I continued to follow them through the reporting in the Sportstar. That magazine also gave me a Dennis Bergkamp poster that adorned one of the walls in my room.

Even after I outgrew sport cards and posters, I continued to root for them in every single competition. While watching football in the pubs I remember passionately making a case for my favorite dutch players; Zenden, Overmars, the De Boer twins, Seedorf and so on. Even now I retain an affection for the Robbens and the Sneijders that's as illogical as the passion for one's own team. While I make this post, Spain and Germany are fighting for the right to play against the dutch. Both these teams look better than the Netherlands, but my loyalty is unconfused.
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