News - June 21, 2012

Orange fever

A sea of orange surrounded me. If I didn't know better I would have been worried. I swam, pushed and kicked through the crowd to the front benches flopping down next to my German friends.

I have never seen anything like football in the Netherlands. It is not a sport, it is a belief. I remember walking into the supermarket recently, when it had changed overnight from a normal space to a bright haven of orange goodies. Shops, houses, streets were covered in flags, orange colouring and posters. All Dutch people seem genuinely interested in football.
And so, the hopes and dreams of this nation lay on the shoulders of a few young men dressed in fluorescent orange. I was here to view the tournament's most  important game for Wageningen, with its huge German and Dutch communities. War commenced.
Laura grabbed me by the neck to hold me still, promptly drawing large German flags on my cheeks. She smiled at me proudly: 'You're not Dutch, now you are one of us!'
 'Oh goody', I replied sarcastically. Well there was no going back now, I might as well enjoy it.
The ball was flying from one side of the pitch to the other, an interesting game entailed. Angry roars came from the Dutch as Germany sent the ball into the back of the net. Our German corner gave a roar of delight when the final whistle was blown. Jumping to our feet we hugged each other while a lot of unhappy oranges sat glaring at us.
The after-party would have been more fun if the Dutch had won, but we still made the most of the evening. Supporting the minority is definitely fun. Riding to school the next day I noticed that, ironically, the orange flags in Bennekom looked sad and limp.