Sports

Black skies (Or: Birds dancing across the sky)

When I went to the kitchen to clean up after dinner this evening I heard a strange noise. At first I thought it was water running, making me think it was raining outside. But no – I looked outside and didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. The ground was (relatively) dry.

…Until waves and waves of birds flew up over our apartment complex. Hundreds of birds, flying in undulating waves, this way and that. It looked like my own personal nature screensaver. After a few minutes most of them landed on the large tree on the other side of the apartment complex. It made me wonder: could those thin branches really could hold 8 to 10 birds without snapping? (I could not help thinking of Pixar’s short For the birds on Youtube.) I stood and watched for a while until they left. I mean, it is definitely better than washing dishes, right?

Unconfirmed rumor: Grand Prix to return to Zandvoort on 2 May 2021 from nltimes.nl. The first Dutch Grand Prix since 1985 was supposed to be held this year, but was postponed due to the corona crisis. I suppose it is a rumor, but really – how could Zandvoort not be on the 2021 race calendar?

Dutch state broadcaster pulls logo from vans after attacks from theguardian.com. The world is a weird place these days. The state broadcaster (NOS) has removed their logo because of the abuse they have been receiving.

NOS van at Malieveld earlier this year (they expected a demonstration, although none came that day if I remember correctly)

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Football linesmen (And: Overeager makeup assistants)

Note: for those Americans among us, by football I mean soccer. But since I now live in Europe, I am required to call it football.

Today I have two of the most random articles ever for you, spotted recently. The first article – imagine you’re a football referee at home, a linesman to be exact. You’re enjoying dinner with your mom and her friend when you get a call asking if you could quickly come over and help with officiating the rest of the game. Why? The head referee was injured and there was no backup available at the game. That is exactly what happened to this referee: Grensrechter opgeroepen om in te vallen tijdens voetbalderby: ‘Zat bij mijn moeder te eten’ from omroepwest.nl. Luckily he was able to gather his gear really quickly and the game itself was only about 5 miles up the road.

The head referee was able to walk off the field with a calf injury. The other linesman took over as head referee and (after confirmation from the Dutch football league KNVB) this gentleman was allowed to take over as linesman. Because of that the last 20 minutes of the game could be played. I’m mostly amused that he talks about how he was at home eating with his mom when he got the call.

The other news story is a minor blooper that I read about last week. During a live broadcast the makeup artist walked on set to touch up the presentator’s makeup, not realizing the camera was still rolling. He was quite the gentleman though and was able to laugh it off and keep going. The best part? She didn’t believe him at first.

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A bit of cuteness (Or: Practicing for his new job?)

Today’s story can officially be labeled “cute” – a boy in a nearby town decided to pretend he was also a football referee. And get his exercise in at the same time, apparently.

The full article at omroepwest.nl (in Dutch) can be found here. In short, it talks about how the five year old ran down to the edge of the stands with about 10 minutes to go in the game and started following the movements of the referee. He even had a whistle he was using. His mother tried to get a photo with the referee after the game, however the referee hadn’t realized what was going on so he declined (he was busy with end-of-game activities after all).

After the referee went home he saw the viral video and realized what the mother had been asking. He then got in contact with the boy and brought along some football related items (a shirt as well as autographed red and yellow cards). And just to mention what kind of world we live in in 2020: the mother also mentioned that he politely took photos with her son at the door, rather than going inside. If you click on the article I linked to below the video you can see pictures of the items the boy received.

And, yes, the boy said he now wants to be a football referee when he grows up. Awwww.

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Layers of green (Or: Another view of the Buitenhof)

Here is a look at the Buitenhof from the other side, facing Plaats (“Place”, a plaza in the city centre). Read more about the plaza at the Dutch Wikipedia article with Google translate active. That page includes an image of Johan de Witt’s statue, a politician who was murdered in the 17th century. According to one legend the statue points to the ground to show the spot he was murdered…

What drew my eye when taking this picture was the two different shades of green for the trees on the island in the middle of the Buitenhof.

Random link of the day: a group of business owners from the city of Utrecht have created a YouTube video celebrating the opening of hotels, restaurants and cafés this coming Monday:

The song is Frank Sinatra’s That’s Life, with a different text.

And today it was announced that the long anticipated Formula 1 race coming to Zandvoort is officially cancelled (article from dutchtimes.nl). The reason? It was going to be the first F1 race in The Netherlands since 1985 and the track organizers didn’t want to race without fans being able to come and experience it. (I think the real reason is there is no possible way they could keep the fans away, regardless of what they did.)

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Dutch sport taking the world by storm (Or: Jelle’s Marble Runs)

Imagine my surprise when I read that a new Dutch sport was showcased on the American late-night television show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.

The Dutch sport? Marble racing! The creators are two brothers, Jelle and Dion Bakker (English Wikipedia | Dutch Wikipedia).

Jump to 17:47 if you want to see just the part about the marble racing. John Oliver first discusses the world’s need for sporting events to come back, but also the perils of trying to do so too quickly. For instance, Germany’s football (soccer) league Bundesliga has restarted even though some players and staff members are testing positive for the coronavirus. He then connects this topic with the topic of Dutch marble racing, highlighting this as a “safe option” sport to watch for now. ‘It’s just not possible right now’: John Oliver on bringing back sports safely (theguardian.com).

Amerikaanse tv-show plots sponsor van Nederlandse knikkeryoutubers (article in Dutch, nos.nl). The article talks about how John Oliver has decided to sponsor the 2020 Marble League. After the episode aired, the number of YouTube subscribers jumped from 830K to over a million in a few days and is still climbing. The channel itself has been in existence since November 2018 (subscriber stats).

The key to understanding why this is such a hit is knowing that the marbles are divided into teams with their own names and logos. Each marble has its own personality. Each team has their own merchandise ranging from t-shirts, sweatshirts, caps, die cut stickers, posters, and so forth. There are various competitions including the Marble League (formally MarbleLympics), the Marble Rally (a series of offroad races, either on sand or dirt) and even the Marbula One, which of course is inspired by Formula One auto racing.

Marble League 2019 – funnel race (the LAST marble wins)

So – will you be watching marble racing this summer?

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A new “control” phase (Or: Dutch press conference on 6 May)

News articles had begun to appear in the last few days saying that the government would be shifting to a new phase of “what can you do” versus “what can’t you do” during these corona times. By yesterday it became apparent that the government would holding a press conference tonight, again with the prime minister and healthcare minister. As expected, a lot of the information leaked yesterday evening and today, so there weren’t too many surprises.

The usual rules stay in place (for example, keep 1.5 meters distance, sneeze and cough into your elbow, stay home if you’re feeling sick, wash your hands often, work as much as you can from home, etc.) The one big rule change in this new phase is “avoid busy areas as much as you can” as a replacement for “stay at home as much as you can”. Which I think is a huge shift already.

Here is the relevant information page from rijksoverheid.nl in Dutch, with some points in English below.

From 11 May

  • As already reported during the last press conference: elementary schools can open, daycares can open, children can exercise and partake in sporting activities outside (teenagers can as well, if they follow social distancing rules)
  • Adults are now allowed to partake in non-contact sporting activities outside as long as they follow social distancing rules and shower at home, with no games allowed
  • Most “contact” jobs are now allowed, including hairdressers, beauticians, driving instructors, acupuncturists, etc. Where possible social distancing rules are followed and appointments are always required, with clients and staff needing to confirm that neither are sick.
    • A bit of a shock: face masks are not required, but can be used if desired provided they are not medical face masks
  • Libraries are allowed to open, provided they follow social distancing rules and limit the rate of visitors accordingly
  • Only use public transportation if you must, and avoid rush hour. It is advised that you wear a non-medical face mask (with this becoming a requirement on 1 June due to the government expecting an increased amount of users by then).

Sometime in June

  • The government expects to be able to test anyone who asks for a test (they hope to allow this from 1 June, but cannot give a precise date yet)

From 1 June

  • Non-medical face masks are now a requirement in public transportation, and public transportation operators are required to have a full schedule by this date
    • Public transportation workers can request testing to make sure they don’t have the coronavirus
    • Medical face masks are not allowed as there is still a shortage of those in The Netherlands for healthcare workers
  • Outside terraces by restaurants can open again
  • Movie theaters, restaurants, cafes, museums and other cultural institutions can open, with reservations required and agreement between the client and staff that neither are sick; with a maximum of 30 visitors and staff combined at any one time

From 15 June

  • High schools can take exams

From 1 July

  • Public restrooms and showers can again open at camping areas and vacation parks
  • The maximum of 30 visitors for movie theaters, restaurants and similar is increased to 100 visitors
  • Church services, weddings and funerals of up to 100 visitors and staff are also allowed

From 1 September

  • Fitness clubs, saunas, wellness centers, coffee shops (drug shops) and casinos can open again
  • Contact sports and inside sporting is allowed, for everyone
  • Sporting events can again take place, but without public. This includes paid football games.
  • Around this time a decision will be made about events with lots of visitors, including festivals and concerts.
from rijksoverheid.nl

The prime minister was quick to caution that the above steps are only possible if the coronavirus is kept under control.

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A reminder of better days (Or: Football and chips)

For those reading the United States – yes, I’ve gotten used to the convention of calling soccer football.

Recently I was in the Albert Heijn and I spotted some Pringles cans in the chips aisle:

The Dutch football season was canceled earlier this week after the Dutch government said that large events would not be allowed before 1 September at the earliest. Even so, the Pringoooals promotion is still going on, at least in some countries (Dutch link).

The Dutch football association was left with a puzzle after deciding to cancel the remainder of the football season. They let the affected clubs vote, but of course not everyone is happy and there is talk of lawsuits. The FA has decided the following (see also DutchNews.nl):

  • officially there is no champion (Ajax and AZ were #1 and #2)
    • Ajax will go straight into the European Champions League‘s group stage, while AZ will need to qualify
    • Feyenoord will go straight into the Europa League (one level below the Champions League), while PSV Eindhoven and Willem II will need to qualify
    • FC Utrecht (which barely missed out) wants to sue
  • Most leagues have relegations and promotions at the end of the season. For Dutch football this means the two worst teams in the Dutch honor league play the two best teams from the Dutch first league. If a team from the lower league wins this knockout game then they are promoted to the honor division and the losing team is relegated to the first division.
    • The FA decided that there would be no promotions or degradations this season
    • At the moment that competition was stopped, The Hague’s ADO Den Haag team was second to last in the honor division… though anything could have changed in the months ahead. But they got lucky, even if the team itself sees financial trouble ahead due to the coronavirus crisis (Dutch article from omroepwest.nl)
    • The two teams from the lower division want to sue

Although various teams are unhappy, the chances of winning in court are quite low (Dutch article from nos.nl).

I’ll admit I am definitely missing sports on TV. I wasn’t always a big football fan, but sometimes it provides the perfect amount of entertainment or background noise. And since Marco and I have Ziggo, we have seen a lot of English Premier League games over the years.

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A late night (Or: Ajax football and Captain Marvel)

Note: there are no spoilers for Captain Marvel in this post.

Last night was a fun night with Marco and Roger. First off, we watched the Ajax-Real Madrid Champions League football game. Amsterdam’s Ajax team lost the previous match against Real Madrid 2-1 so they needed to win by at least two goals last night to proceed to the quarter finals. And that they did – winning 4-1! The coolest goal was the last one Ajax made (YouTube).

The best part about the game was that it started at 9pm and ended around 11pm. Which was really good for us, since after that we were going to a midnight showing of Captain Marvel. Generally movies premiere on Wednesdays in the Netherlands, and since 12:01am is also Wednesday… yeah.

Fun thing: I noticed that the movie theatre had ruby chocolate KitKats. If you’ve never tried ruby chocolate, you should. It is a bit sour, but still sweet like chocolate.

movie theatre snacks!

While we were waiting in the downstairs lobby (the upper part was roped off so they could clean the theatre from the previous showing) I took a picture of The Hague’s library:

looking down at The Hague Central Library (library=bibliotheek)

The movie was pretty good. I liked it and was definitely entertained even though I was sleep deprived. I thought the cat stole the show. More about the cat here, with a few minor spoilers if you don’t read the Captain Marvel comics.

And lastly: of course there is a Stan Lee tribute. The theatre clapped for that.

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Cleanup in the city centre (Or: The end of the Volvo Ocean Race)

A photo from a few days ago. A large city truck stopped to grab one of the billboards advertising for the Volvo Ocean Race which ended in June:

Removing billboards for the Volvo Ocean Race in The Hague

This year the race ended in The Hague, so the city made it part of Scheveningen’s Feest aan Zee (Seaside Celebrations). This annual programme marks the 200th anniversary of Scheveningen’s founding.

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Soccer? Football? (Or: My first ADO Den Haag game)

Of course – it is called football (or voetbal) over here. Roger bought some tickets for the ADO Den Haag game a few weeks back, against Sparta Rotterdam. So Marco and I met up with Roger and his mother – although our first stop was the Rrrollend Foodtruck festival. The last one of the year in The Hague! We are already looking forward to the return of the festival in 2018.

Here is the ADO Den Haag stadium – reachable by tram 3 or 4 from the city centre (Forepark station).

ADO Den Haag football stadium

Unfortunately it is about a 10 minute walk from the station, but at least you don’t have to take the train.

Before the ADO Den Haag football game

Before the game – people filing in and the grass being watered. It is hard to tell from this photo, but the seats are elevated, with fans needing to climb a flight of metal stairs to get to this level. The field is separated by a high wall to prevent rioters from reaching the field.

The section on the other side with the team logo is where the fans with season cards sit.

More flag waving before ADO Den Haag football game

At the beginning of the game they passed out a lot of large flags to our section. If you sit here your flag waving skills better be good!

Flag waving before the ADO Den Haag game

Above is one very energetic fan. He first passed this flag to another spectator, asking if the man wanted to wave the flag. When this didn’t really happen (the guy just held it in his hands), the guy took it back and began to wave it frantically. And note the back of his shirt – 070 is the area code of The Hague.

1-0 score between ADO Den Haag and Sparta

We ended up winning the game 1-0. It would have been 2-0 but there was a goal called off for being offside.

The best part: we were sitting right behind the goal so we had a great view.

Blue Army graffiti by the stands at ADO Den Haag football game

Here’s a look at the graffiti-filled wall that separates the fans from the field. The stairs to go up to the stands are off to the left.

All in all it was a fun game. Though I have to admit that my favorite moment was when ADO Den Haag had a goal chance that the Sparta goalkeeper blocked – four times! The ball kept being hit back to the ADO Den Haag player, who had little choice but to kick it back in the same direction. it was like a game of pong.

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