World Cup: Army of Orange on the Drive

The Courier introduces Vancouverites who are devoted to the World Cup and following their team from afar in coffee shops on Commercial Drive, pubs in Strathcona and convenience stores on Robson Street. check out our World Cup schedule, which is set to Vancouver time.

Asher DeGroot never grew up on football as he did with hockey. That changed when he studied in the Netherlands for a semester, returning to the country of his ancestors.

“I lived with people who absolutely loved it and I got sold on it instantly,” said DeGroot.

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He started to follow other teams as well, such as Liverpool and Arsenal, but is a Dutch fan first and foremost.

This passion led DeGroot and a cousin to the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. They were chosen in the ticket lottery five times and attended five Dutch games, including the final.

A massive group of around 3,000 Dutch fans were in South Africa following the national team to various host cities. The concept was called Oranjecamping and fans travelled in motor homes and overlander safari trucks with campsite facilities.

DeGroot wasn’t aware of Oranjecamping at first but when driving to a game, ended up in the same convoy of vehicles.

In Vancouver, Manchester Public Eatery has been welcoming Dutch fans, but DeGroot is skeptical. “You can’t really have a Dutch house at the Manchester.”

There isn’t a specific Dutch hub during the World Cup the way Germany has the Vancouver Alpen Club or Croatia the Croatian Cultural Centre.

“I live close to the Drive and it probably has the best atmosphere for the World Cup,” said DeGroot. “I like to go to Italian places or Portuguese.”

He names Abruzzo Cappuccino Bar and Cafe Napoli as favourites. There are always Dutch supporters and he doesn’t mind sharing the space with rival fans. “It’s an important cultural event beyond just a sporting event.”

DeGroot shared what it’s like being a member of the orange army.

Is there a proper name for the Dutch team?
AD: Dutch fans call it Nederland. Some people call it Holland, though technically that’s only the provinces.

What do Dutch fans drink?
AD: Beer. Dutch beer. Usually Heineken just because it’s readily available.

What do Dutch fans eat?
AD: Croquettes and fries.

How do Dutch fans celebrate?
AD: Tons of beer.

What is your favourite World Cup memory?
AD: Even though they [Netherlands] lost and it was really heartbreaking, being at the final game last World Cup. Even before the game, all the Dutch and Spanish fans were hanging out together.

What is your favourite World Cup goal?
AD: Definitely Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s in the last World Cup [during the semi-final against Uruguay]. Everyone on the radio was saying, “Giovanni? He’s old!” But he kept going.

Who is your favourite player?
AD: Van Persie.

What did you find surprising during this year’s World Cup?
AD: Spain playing as poorly as they did. I did not think the Dutch would be able to do to them what they did.

If not Netherlands, who do you think will win?
AD: Argentina. They’ve been playing pretty amazing.

chrischcheung@hotmail.com
twitter.com/chrischeungtogo

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