Afrikaners: World Cup makes Centuries-Old Links Stronger
Below is an article publsihed by the Christian Science Monitor
There is an orange army in South Africa that watches every Netherlands World Cup game, that cheers every shot on goal, that boos every bad referee call, and that is convinced that Holland will win the 2010 FIFA World Cup after Tuesday's Netherlands vs. Uruguay semifinal.
Ranked No. 4 in the world, The Netherlands edged out the world’s best team, Brazil, with a score of 2-1 on Friday, courtesy of a goal by Wesley Sneijder and an own goal from Brazil’s Felipe Melo.
Here in South Africa, a country that was once controlled by Dutch settlers and where the majority of white citizens speak a Dutch dialect called Afrikaans, the success of the Dutch team is big news indeed.
Around the country, South African cars sport the Dutch flag. On game days, whole restaurants are often filled with fans wearing the color orange, the color of Dutch royalty. Few among even these faithful expected the Netherlands to defeat Brazil; but now that the Samba Boys are gone, many South African fans say the Dutch are unbeatable.
“Holland is no longer stoppable,” says Roger De Sa, who coaches Bidvest Wits Football Club, a local professional soccer team. “The Dutch national squad is solid at the back, creative in the midfield and sharp shooting upfront making them the serious contenders to walk away with the 2010 FIFA World Cup."
The World Cup has brought out the inner nationalist in many sports fans – the cuddly safe kind of nationalism found in bright-colored wigs, face paint, and in the case of the English fans, chain mail – and the emergence of Holland has given many South Africans of Dutch ancestry much to be proud of.
Not everyone supports the Dutch, of course, particularly black South Africans who see Netherlands as a country whose descendants created the hated apartheid government, but generally speaking, South Africans recognize the fact that, after all, this is only a game.
Pierre Ferreira, from the northern Cape Town suburb of Welgemoed will be wearing an orange coat and jumper at tomorrow night’s game to support the former mother country.
“They’re a very jovial bunch of guys who are young in attitude, says Mr. Ferreira, who has a Portuguese surname, but who speaks the Dutch dialect of Afrikaans. He has attended five games so far, and will be at the Netherlands vs. Uruguay semifinal Tuesday in Cape Town. “There is an historical significance and I feel a small link to the country, but it’s more the language. I think Holland will win tomorrow but I think it will be hard for them to beat Germany [if both teams reach the final] with the form they’re in. I said from the start [Germany] looked the best all-around team.”
Jacques Gelderman, who lives in the predominantly Afrikaner northern suburb of Durbanville in Cape Town, said he would be shouting for his ancestors.
“My family originally comes from the Netherlands a long time ago now and it has made me feel a little more Dutch, just a little,” says Mr. Gelderman. “The fans look like they’re having so much fun – there must be thousands of them here.”
“I’m a big rugby fan and didn’t take much interest in soccer, but gradually my eyes have been opened to the sport,” he adds, noting that he hasn’t attended any games but has watched the games on TV. “Us whites just thought it was a black sport which they played elsewhere but now we can see it really is a world sport and it’s been great.”