The FIFA World Cup is just around the corner, and as we all know, we didn’t make the cut (again!). We’re once more being robbed of a summer full of beers and playing dress-up. Eight years ago we came in second, four years ago third, but unfortunately it’s all been down-hill from there. Let’s be honest, it’s not fun anymore. Being the laughing stock of the international football world is getting old quickly and we need a plan. A plan to make it to each and every final and be at least second, no matter how mediocre we might be. To get the summer we all need and deserve, I might have a solution.
How many second chances does football need?
The Netherlands have a long football history and it’s our national sport for a reason. It’s great to watch, gives you a reason to go out with mates, drink beers, sing patriotic song and make fun of other countries who suck. Being on the receiving end of the sucking part isn’t our strong suit. We get cranky and annoyed, and for good reasons. We shouldn’t have to explain to people why we didn’t make the cut this year or what’s up with Dutch football these past years. I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of trying to find excuses for what’s going on or getting my hopes up for a brighter. I say we just ditch the football and find something else. Football has had its chance.
We excel in many more sports than just football so we should be able to find something everybody can live with right? How about ice-skating? Not a team sport, too cold, and too many participants. Hockey then? A possibility, but too many participants as well. Isn’t there a sport somewhere that has less contesters internationally and is exciting to watch for everybody?
A new era
Think… Lightbulb! Eureka! This is it. The holy grail of excitement. And, most importantly, it’s only played in one country! Welcome to the new era of silver (and maybe one day golden) medals. We’re going to play Australian Football! This is perfect. We can suck at it, even more than we suck at football, and still go home with second prize!
For all of you (Dutch) people who have never seen a game of Australian Football (also referred to as Aussie rules or footy), you are missing out big time. At first it might look a bit confusing, but the key rules are simple.
Two teams a side of 18 players and a goal on either side of the field (consisting of two large posts). Scoring is done by kicking the football (shaped kind of like a rugby ball) in between the two posts. The players are allowed to kick or handball the footie to their teammates and if a teammate catches the footie (which is called ‘marking’) over a distance longer than 15 meters the team gets a free kick. When the free kick is close enough to goal the team can try to kick a goal. If the ball goes in between the posts the team gets six points and if it either goes outside or touches one of the posts the team gets one point. A goal always has to be made with the foot, a handball is always one point. That’s basically it.
Not that hard to get a hang of and very exciting to watch. Not convinced yet? How about if I told you that to prevent their opponent from making a mark or scoring a goal players are allowed to do whatever it takes. And I mean whatever it takes! I promise you, you’ll be on the edge of your seats the entire game. That’s probably why they play it in four quarters, because otherwise you won’t have time to go to the toilet. That’s how much kicking, stumping, tackling and diving goes on a footie field.
Enough is enough
No more pussy football players crying on the field after somebody as much as touches them. Or trying to get free kicks or penalties for nothing. None of this all. The sport I’m proposing to embrace is for real men. Men that aren’t afraid of blood and black eyes. Men, men enough to play on with broken bones and busted eyebrows. That’s a sport I want to watch on a hot summer’s day with an ice-cold beer. A sport where teams have names like The Eagles and The Saints. That’s a sport we should be a part of. Forget football. Out with the old, in with the new.
I know Australia is on the other side of the world which can be perceived as a strike against this idea. But the tournament would only consist of a final, so we won’t take too much time out of each other’s schedule. And maybe we can schedule it during the winterstop so that all you Dutchies can come over in winter. Two birds with one stone if you ask me. If we can convince those Aussies to let us in on this game, we’ll never have to worry about not making it to any final, ever again. Now that’s music to my ears. Let’s just give a try. We’ll get at least a silver medal out of it, which is more than we’re getting now.. The Netherlands at least Second, as it should be. Go The Oranges!