Science - April 14, 2005

United Nations wins world cup football

Despite a lack of sleep and the cold weather, the players in the ISOW world cup football tournament last Saturday had fun. China managed to produce two teams, while the Africans hadn’t even met each other until they turned up on the field.

Just like the real World Cup, the soccer teams came from around the world. Students from Wageningen University formed teams representing Greece, the Czech republic, Africa, China, Spain and the Netherlands. Students from the university in Nijmegen formed a ‘United Nations’ team.

China even had two teams. So Chinese students not only like ping-pong. ‘I’m no good at table tennis. I love soccer. I also play in the internal competition and on Saturday afternoon we often play with some older men on another field here at the Bongerd,’ said Zhang Cheng. His teammate Cheng Tao found the tournament a good opportunity to play soccer with other Chinese. ‘I also play ping pong and basketball, but then we mix with the other international students.’ The Chinese teams wore blue shirts from the Chinese student association CASSW. ‘We couldn’t find the red shirts from our national team here,’ says Zhang.

Whereas the Chinese all knew each other, the players from the African team had to exchange names before their first match. The team got together through e-mail. ‘We’ve only just met,’ said Tazebe Kiros from Ethiopia about his teammates from Ghana and Morocco. But this didn’t stop them from having fun.

By the third match many players were looking less fresh. It wasn’t that their physical condition was so bad. ‘Most of us only went to bed at six this morning,’ commented the Spanish goalkeeper. Nevertheless the players did well, and reached the semi-finals. The players on the Dutch team hadn’t had much sleep much either. In preparation for the matches they stayed overnight in the uiterwaarden (the floodplain of the Rhine). The group is called the Dijkgraaf team. ‘We play whenever we can on the field near our flat,’ explains Pascal van der Sandt.

In the end the United Nations and the Czech republic made it to the finals. The Czechs only made it to the final after winning a second series of penalties. The final also came down to penalties as nobody scored. The Czechs lost. ‘But they played passionately and were a close team,’ commented one of the organisers, Bram Lestrade, on their performance. / YdH

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