Soccer is Emotion (1996)

In the South Stand, right behind the goal, sits, next to me, in section 28, row 5, chair number 7, a brand new enthusiastic fan. It is, wearing a s.c. Heerenveen cap and – scarf, our 10 year’s young daughter. At first she likes to make a chat or share a joke with all the fans on surrounding seats, even when the match is into full play. In a couple of weeks, surprisingly fast, she exactly knows the rules and to which excitement the game might be getting or is up to. She intensively experiences the critical moments in the penalty area before “our” goal.

Her interest, however, already begins before the match has even had its kick off. Always the first player to enter the pitch to start working on his warming up, is Carlo l’ Ami[1]: Stretching and other exercises to get supple and flexible. Work outs with a ball. She concludes: “Being a goal keeper is the most difficult skill, is not it?” She puts her hands as a funnel in front of her mouth and shouts, with a clear vocal: “Carlóó!” And -I ‘ll be darned- he, only for a second, raises a greeting hand. So since that moment we never do without attending a warming-up anymore, because once a fortnight this special ritual is added to every home game.

Then the tide is turning. All of the sudden -wrongly deprived if you ask me- the coach is of opinion that this agile and courageous goal keeper lacks emphasising ability towards his defenders. The worst thing to happen to a goalkeeper is the loss of his self-confidence: This only leads to (more) wrong choices and less hesitant to act. So after a shocking 0-4 crushing defeat against Ajax Amsterdam his curtain dropped.

I keep on postponing the inevitable moments of “when and how to tell my daughter”. “How about you trying to…”, I strive to make my wife complicit in revealing the problem. “No”, she says firmly, “that is your job.”   Reading our team’s line up in Saturday’s Newspaper confirms that a change of goal-keepers is harsh reality tonight. So during dinner I cautiously raise the issue. That there are so many players. And that they sometimes have to be transferred to other clubs. And have to remove to a different city. While quietly proceeding with eating her meal, I notice that I have my daughter’s full attention. So the last word has to get out. Now. “So therefore, from tonight’s match, Carlo l’Ami will no longer be Heerenveen’s goal keeper.” She takes another bite of her fried noodles and slowly chews it. Just when I am about to believe, that she has considered and accepted this fact, she carefully lays her fork and knife on either side of her dish on the table. Then two tears start running down from her cheeks, until they fall into the almost empty plate.

[1] S.c Heerenveen’s goal keeper from 1993 until 8 matches in the season 1995/1996.



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