July 11 is always a rough day for me. It's the death anniversary of my father so naturally I'm moody, snarky and a bit tense. However, this year I had something to look out for. Something that would take away the curse the 11th of July holds for me. Never had I been so exited about a day, not even my own birthday, because it was the day that the Dutch national soccer team could become World Champions.
Ever since I was a little girl, I'm enchanted by this game called soccer. The game, the players, the clubs... I have been into it all this time, together with my dad. It was sort of 'our
' thing and as it may not be the most ideal father-daughter thing, I was happy with it. And I hope he was too, and I could make up a little bit for the fact that I wasn't a boy. Our
thing, that became my
thing 9 years ago, because on that sunny July 11 he left us for good. God wanted his angel back...
Back to the last 11th of July. 2010. South Africa. T he Lions, Orange... The national Dutch soccer team finally returned to the final of the world cup, for the 3th time. Determined to bring the cup back. I can't remember the last time I was that tense. Not even when I had my exams 3 years ago. I was so in to this game, this specific game, on this specific day. If someone would have asked me to donate a kidney to assure this teams win, I would have done it.
But they didn't win. They fought, like lions, as they were. I cursed, laughed, prayed and cried during and after the game. Because the goal they had, the goal I had, the goal my whole country had set, wasn't the goal that got achieved. They lost the game, and at time moment, with the game also my hopes to make July the 11th a better day for the future.
Now I can say it was the referee's fault and that we lost because Spain feigned so many falls and injuries, but it doesn't change the fact that we indeed lost. As painful as it might be. The Lions didn't got tamed. They got locked into a Webb cage.
I have to say I pretty much broke down after the game. That's what soccer does to me, that's how important it is to me. Because for the biggest part in my life, soccer made
who I was. I was known as 'the soccer girl.' It was the only thing that made people actually talk to me, because I was good at it, because I knew stuff about it. Soccer gave me friends. At least, they felt like friends. And last Sunday, I had hoped that soccer also could make me enjoy that day again, or at least look at it with a brighter heart. I was so sad about the loss, so angry because of the way we lost, that I didn't saw what I saw today. Something that makes me think that soccer, that faithful game and maybe even just the national team actually did help me to get over with that day. Even if it's just for a little bit.
Over the whole World Cup in general, we broke the record with 13 million people watching the game (my country only has 16 million people mind you), random people hugged each other, the entire country was dressed in orange, all over the country people were partying because of soccer, friends were made, people who usually can't stand each other all of a sudden seemed to be best friends... It was better than any ideal Christmas. And all because of soccer. It was beautiful. All of it.
The Netherlands got in second. Silver. Always one step behind... And yet, today. 10 thousands of people gathered to honor them, to party over the fact that we got second. The boys were given a boat tour in Amsterdam, a big concert and the team captain and coach even got knighted for the Order of Oranje Nassau, which is a royal award given by our queen. They might not have become champions, but hell... It did feel like it, today when the boys got honored.
Never before had I seen my country, or any other for that matter, so united. So together. The fact that everyone cheered just as hard for those players and staff even though they lost, as when they would have won the game made me swell up with tears. Today I felt proud to be a Dutch and it made me look at last Sunday with a whole different look.
Papa, your death anniversary might not have been the day our country became world champions, but it was the day the whole country united over a game of soccer, and for some reason... That Gives Me Hope.
I miss you daddy.