ERMELO, Gelderland, Netherlands – The Dutch aren’t exactly known for their flaming passion, but when the national soccer team is playing the entire country is upside down.
Dutch World Cup fuzzy critters. (Caroline Nelissen/YJI)Many people cover themselves and their houses in orange, the national color, and shops have come up with some of the strangest accessories, enabling everyone to go completely overboard with their World Cup outfits. Orange accessories vary from fluffy little creatures, t-shirts, huge inflatable orange hands that give a thumbs up, the strangest hats and, of course, the unavoidable vuvuzela’s.
The World Cup is everywhere.
When ‘Oranje’ plays, the majority of the Dutch are watching. The daily traffic jams on the highways occur sooner than they normally do, because people try to get home early to watch the game.
By the time the game starts, shops and streets are nearly deserted.
Some companies let their employees watch the games together, while bars across the country are overcrowded with orange masses cheering and chanting for the national team.
Generally speaking, most Dutch people aren’t very patriotic and the chauvinism of other countries is ridiculed, but during the World Cup people here seem to be bubbling with pride.
It’s as if the Dutch have bottled up all their national allegiance and love to unleash it in great magnitude when there’s football.
And so far, the Dutch team has delivered.
In its first matches the team was criticized for dull play, but like the team’s coach has said, at the World Cup it matters if you win, not how beautiful the play is. And winning the Dutch did.
Having won all games all games so far, it was time for the Dutch to meet favorite Brazil in Port Elizabeth last Friday. The Dutch had lost to Brazil in the 1994 quarterfinals and 1998 semifinals so people were nervous about this game, as both teams were expected to perform well.
Ending the first half with a 1-0 setback, things looked rather grim for the Dutch, but the second half things turned around and the nerve-racking game ended in a 2-1 win for the Netherlands, causing the Dutch fans to swell with pride for their team.
The win has brought the Dutch team and their fans one step closer to their ultimate dream: reaching the finals and winning the World Cup.
The entire country is in a festive mood, and in anticipation of Tuesday’s semifinal against Uruguay the party continues.
Caroline Nelissen is a Senior Reporter for Youth Journalism International.