ek footballThe Lionesses play the first match of the European Football Championship in Sheffield tonight. And so a modest Orange Legion descends on the British mainland by train, bus, boat, car or plane.
Tonny van der Mee
About forty women from the Delft student football association Ariston’80 are a place of interest in Sheffield. Dressed in orange carrot suits, they make the center of the English city ‘unsafe’. “We do notice yes”, says Kira Geluk, one of the Delft women. “Every now and then they see a carrot walking by.”
Those carrot packs have a history, says Geluk. At one time, Ariston’s fourth women’s team was bombed into the second women’s team. “The square root of 4 is 2,” says the TU Delft student. ,,So carrots are always a thing in our club. And then of course the color fits well with it.”
Three years ago, Ariston’s carrot suits could already be seen in the French city of Valenciennes, where the Orange Lionesses played a match at the World Cup against Cameroon. Happiness: ,,We have ordered additional carrot suits for new members and we often wear them on team outings.”
The mother of…
Now the suits have been taken out again for the European Championship in England. Tonight the Netherlands will play its first game against Sweden. On Friday morning, the football players of Ariston left by bus to the French port of Calais, to catch the ferry to Dover. Happiness: ,,I heard a woman speak Dutch on the boat. I chatted with her. It turned out to be the mother of Orange player Caitlin Dijkstra!”
Last night they pitched their tents at a campsite near Sheffield and built a campfire. This afternoon they left for the city by bus.
Mike van Katwijk from Barendrecht has also arrived there with his 13-year-old daughter Maybritt after a ‘world trip’. At 5 o’clock this morning they took the plane from Brussels South Charleroi airport to Manchester. The train and bus then dropped off father and daughter in Sheffield. Mike first wants to go to the memorial to the victims of the 1989 Hillsborough stadium disaster, in which 97 Liverpool supporters were crushed to death.
,,My favorite player is Lieke Martens”, says Maybritt, who will play for Smitshoek next season after four years of playing football at Excelsior Rotterdam. But she wears a Vivianne Miedema shirt in Sheffield. “She received that signed shirt from Miedema when she presented a book about Feyenoord supporters,” says father Mike.
Three years ago, Mike and Maybritt were also at the World Cup in France. They were in the stadium in Lyon when the Netherlands lost the final to the United States. ,,Then we made an agreement that from now on we would go to every tournament of the Lionesses together,’ says Mike.
,,We also go to Feyenoord regularly, but the atmosphere here is more relaxed than at men’s matches. It’s really nice to pass the football virus on to your daughter, but it’s really nice to just have a father-daughter outing like this.”
Also in the fan zone is Stacey Stolwijk, Ajax player in heart and soul, with a Jackie Groenen shirt (number 14). This morning she and her friends arrived in Hull by boat from Hoek van Holland. They then drove to Sheffield by car.
,,There were many Orange supporters on the boat and also in the open supporters’ bus,’ she says, as she walks through Sheffield. That bus leads the Orange Legion at every major tournament as it marches from the fan zone to the stadium. This will also be the case later, when the Orange March through Sheffield starts at 5 p.m.
,,It will be a tough game against Sweden. It’s a tough opponent, but we’re going for the win. I think it will be one big orange sea that follows the bus.”
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