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Football/Soccer

Kicked Off: A new Eredivisie season begins

In celebration of the Eredivisie kicking off, a few passages on Dutch football:

First, from Soccer in Sun and Shadow, Eduardo Galeano recounts Cryuff’s origins:

This scrawny livewire earned a spot on the Ajax roster when he was only a child: while his mother waited tables at the club bar, he collected balls that went off the field, shined the players’ shoes, and placed flags in the corners. He did everything they asked of him and nothing they ordered him to do. He wanted to play and they would not let him because his body was too weak and his will too strong. When they finally gave him a chance, he took it and never let it go. Still a boy, he made his debut, played stupendously, scored a goal, and knocked out the referee with one punch.

Galeano’s Gullit piece reads like it’s speaking to 2019, not 1993…

In 1993 a tide of racism was rising. Its stench, like a recurring nightmare, already hung over Europe; several crimes were committed and laws to keep out ex-colonial immigrants were passed. Many young whites, unable to find work, began to blame their plight on people with dark skin.

Ruud Gullit, known as “The Black Tulip,” had always been a full-throated opponent of racism. Guitar in hand, he sang at anti-apartheid concerts between matches, and in 1987, when he was chosen Europe’s most valuable player, he dedicated his Ballon d’Or to Nelson Mandela, who spent many years in jail for the crime of believing that blacks are human.

I googled The Black Tulip to see if Ruud Gullit would hit my screen first.

Nope.

Instead, the search engine delivered another historical rebel – Alexander Dumas, and his novel titled: The Black Tulip.

Now, from David Winner‘s Brilliant Orange:

A dedication worth reading:

For:

Dad, who taught me to love football,

Mum, who taught me to love art

and Hanny, who taught me to love Holland.

It’s clear to me now, but back in 2004, Winner’s book introduced me to the Dutch mentality of controlling the game. Also, Winner taught me there’s more to Dutch football than Johann Cryuff.

‘It’s a thinking game. It’s not running around everywhere and just working hard, though of course you have to work hard too. Every Dutch player wants to control the game. We play the ball from man to man; we wait for openings. That’s how to play football: with your brains, not with your feet. You don’t have to be a chess player, but you must think ahead. Before I had the ball I knew exactly what I would do with it. I always knew two or three moves ahead. Before I get the ball I can already see someone moving in front of me, so when the ball arrives I don’t have to think about it. And I don’t have to watch the ball because I have the right technique.’ If ball control comes naturally to a player, he needs only one touch to get it where it needs to be.

Arnold Muhren

Lastly, two transfers to watch out for:

Jordy Clasie returns to AZ on a permanent. Could a return to the Eredivisie see him mount a national team comeback?

Former Johan Cruyff Trophy winner and Pochettino outcast Vincent Janssen has landed in Monterrey. Could the ketchup finally flow?

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Uncategorized

Current Reading Stack #1

Long ago I decided to participate in the Ray Bradbury writers diet. This diet consisted of reading one short story, one poem and one essay each day.

This he claimed in a lecture at Point Loma Nazarene University’s Writer’s Symposium By the Sea, would ward off writer’s block.

It’s Ray Bradbury. It’s gotta work. Right?

I’ve since gone on to combine Ray’s reading diet with my own, reading one novel, one comic, and one non-fiction book at a time.

I’m not sure it’s helping my writing, but I’m getting a lot of reading done.

 

The Three MusketeersRebecca Solnit wrote on the importance of writers reading the classics. “Live in the deep past” she said.

Taking her advice to heart I started with Athos, Porthos, Armais and D’Artangan. I’ve been in this book for months. Here’s to finishing in 2018!

Fragile Things – A Neil Gaiman collection of short stories. Neil Gaiman will seduce you. He’ll make you choke on your eggs laughing. And he’ll diagnose you with love sickness, all in one book.

The Map That Changed the World: William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology – This book was mentioned once on the Freakonomics podcast. I ordered it. Then it took a long nap on my shelf. Now I’m learning geology is the only thing that matters.

The New Kings of Nonfiction – Found this on the clearance shelf at Half Price Books. A sin! This book is worth at least one bitcoin. Glad I scooped it up for two dollars. It’s not considered a collection of essays, more so long form journalism. But I’ll consume it as part of my essay diet for now.

Brown Girl Dreaming – I never believe people when the say “Art is the only thing that will save us.” Jacqueline Woodson’s collection of poems is changing my mind.

The Complete Persepolis – Some people read “How to Win Friends and Influence People” every year. Others read “To Kill a Mockingbird” every year. Many many others don’t read any books, all year.

I read this comic every year. I don’t plan to. But somehow it falls in my lap every twelve months.