I have lived in the United States for almost 14 years now, I have an American passport, I speak, dream, joke and curse in English and yet, when it comes to soccer, I remain Dutch. In every possible way. While many fellow Americans are probably blissfully unaware of the Euro Cup 2012, going on right now in Poland & Ukraine, I think in “Orange”: Orange manicure, orange pedicure, orange flags…the only things missing are my orange pastries and orange beer. (I don’t drink beer, but during Euro Cups and/or World Cups I would happily make an exception if I could get my hands on one of these refreshing beverages in this patriotic color.)
“So, what’s with all the orange?” you ask? The Dutch Royal Family’s name is Van Oranje (From Orange) and even though the Dutch flag carries the colors red, white & blue, orange is the color proudly displayed, worn and consumed by the Dutch during International soccer events.
“Over the top” you say? To outsiders it may seem like that. For (most of) the Dutch, it is a sign of patriotism, a sign of support for the team that represents us in a sport that we are absolutely crazy about.
Last Friday, on June 8, the Euro Cup 2012 started and on Saturday the orange team played their first game. Without a doubt, Holland was considered one of the favorites for the title. The team was ready, the country was ready and despite being in the same group as Germany (the BIG challenge) Holland was ready to rock ‘n roll.
One of my elementary school friends, Laura, shared with me the enthusiasm going on at home:
Saturday morning came and the kids were ready.
Mommy was ready.
And the snacks were served.
(By the way, as a Dutch person, living abroad, this comfort food makes me home sick)
Ready for the game to start.
… we lost.
To the underdog.
First I was shocked, disappointed, bubble was burst, dream was crushed, and more of those metaphors that would describe disappointment, but after a good workout I got over it. The way the system works is that each country plays in a group of 4, playing 3 other countries after which the numbers 1 & 2 of each group move on to the quarter finals. Now, imagine my surprise when I popped on Facebook in the evening and discovered (to my horror) that part of the country had already given up, packed up the orange decorations, decided that we were history! Really?
So, for grins and giggles, let’s take a look at the definition of the word “Support”:
According to The Free Dictionary “to support” means: “to give aid or courage to”.
I searched high and low, but I have to admit that I failed in finding anything about “only giving courage if they win”, or “do what you want them to do”. “Support” apparently is a concept that has become conditional. I personally choose to support unconditionally: I unconditionally support my children, my marriage, my family, my home country AND its soccer team, despite living on the other side of the world. Imagine your life, if you only received support from friends and family if you did what it was they wanted you to do.
Thankfully, in the same Facebook-surfing session, I also came across words such as “it ain’t over until it’s over!”, “Remember 1988!!” (in which we also lost the first game to an underdog and proceeded to bring home the Euro Cup title.)
I say: support now more than ever!! The team needs the support, the encouragement, knowing that their country believes in them. If you can’t do that, simply don’t call yourself a “supporter” and zip it. There’s enough negativity in the world, so to those who don’t believe anymore, I say: I feel for you, I truly do. You want to talk yourself down? That’s your choice, just don’t attempt to take the rest of the country with you.
So, until the Euro Cup is over, I say:
Keep the pubs orange and serve the orange beer!
Keep the sheep warm and let them show their patriotism too. (Why not?)
Win or lose, these athletes trained and did their very best to do the best they could. It may or may not work out. We support, encourage and stand behind them.
In the same way, when it comes to my children, I stand behind them no matter what. I want my children to know that they have my unconditional support. Them losing one game, doesn’t constitute me giving up on them. On the contrary, it fuels my desire to encourage them more. Similar to our soccer team, I would like them to know that they are supported in their efforts to achieve their goals. Supported 100%. No strings attached.
And for them (the Dutch players and/or my children), knowing (and feeling) that they are being supported and encouraged is the strongest confidence booster they can get. Unconditional support, that’s what it’s all about. Not only in soccer, but in life.
So, on that note, I sincerely hope that our Dutch team will surprise and come back stronger than ever on Wednesday and again on Sunday. I say, let’s repeat 1988. And if they don’t, that’s okay too. We will stand behind our Orange. Even at 5,570 miles (8,964 km) distance.
Orange is in our genes and even though I moved here, my children grow up and learn to play soccer here, I say:
“You can take us out of Holland, but you just cannot take the Holland out of us.”
Until next time,
Savor food, savor family, savor life.
- Marieke, aka HRH Mommy