Tuesday, 27 June 2006

Is it just a game?

Monday, June 26th 2006 seemed like a normal day to a lot of people in our little country. Yes, all hopes of winning that elusive World Cup were crushed the evening before after Holland lost to Portugal 1-0. So the sea of orange supporters won't be flocking towards the stadiums in Germany any more. Yet again Holland remained the, what BBC commentator (and former England striker) Gary Lineker called, "best team never to win a world cup". For most of us, realization hit that the world goes on and it's time to get back to your regular lives. Take down those Orange flags from your house, put that orange jersey in your closet and move on.

But not for all. I came home after work and saw my neighbor standing on his ladder, taking down his orange decorations. He looked grim and beaten. This was a guy that only a few days ago proclaimed that "We might not play that well, but since surviving the "Group of death" we'll go to the final for sure!". And only weeks before the World Cup he stated that Holland was the favorite to win it all because of the way they played in qualifying. He was so sure of himself. He was so cocky about it in a way that it was annoying. Even irritating. Now he was anything but sure.

"That was a tough loss last night huh?" I said when I walked by. He came down the ladder and we struck up a conversation where we talked about the game. He told what he thought went wrong in the game. What shouldn't have gone wrong. What should've happened. "We" shouldn't have lost. Not to Portugal. Not to a team he deemed unworthy. Not like this. He said that it was a bad loss. Maybe he shouldn't be watching the squad anymore. Holland would never win a big tournament again. For all kinds of reasons.

I then said "Maybe in 2 years, those young players will be more mature and more ready. Then that European Championship is ours to lose." And I saw the return of a little glimmer in his eye.

A glimmer of hope...

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