‘Ajax’ a name that needs no introduction. Any household that has a football fan at home would know about Amsterdam’s legendary football club- Ajax. This football club became world-famous because of the “Total Football” concept which they introduced to the world. To the southeast of Amsterdam, one can spot this club as it is a marvel in itself. Its stunning architecture is a matter of pride for the Dutch. A football fan has undoubtedly missed a big part of the Netherlands if he has not visited or taken a tour of this Arena Stadium.
Prior to coming to the Netherlands, I had experienced the look and feel of professional football only on television. The another place where I saw football being played was in the nearby parks or at school grounds in India. Undoubtedly, it was pretty unorganized. Living in the Netherlands, now for me, the concept of football has radically changed. This country literally breathes football.
The passion that the Dutch carry for football is beyond compare. Every second home would have a football fan who is either watching matches or is learning the game. Children in this country devote long hours to training themselves in the game. You will also find children going crazy collecting the football cards with the pictures of players on it. They follow their football Gurus, assess their moves, and dream to be a part of AJAX someday. That pristine it is !!! I see it now.
The football fever never dies in this country; it is always upstream. Football is not a sport, it is like a religion that this country follows with dedication. Whatever be the weather, the game never stops. Here, it is nothing like roadside football. When I see around, every child who plays the sport is like a budding professional player.
People just try to find a reason to go orange whenever the Dutch team plays in the European or World cup. It is like another Kings Day, all dressed in orange. Everybody on the roads sits and drinks at the cafes or in the public parks. The people congregate to watch the match on the public screens. The reason for drinking may be anything- Dutch winning or losing but the show never stops and the love for football stays unshaken.
Ajax has a large standing character of tracking children when they are really young. They don’t test how good a child plays in a particular match. Instead, they keep an eye at how good he is at running, how he lifts his foot, how well he manages the ball, how much creativity he shows in playing with the ball, and many such small details which I never thought they would check in children. Still, those who don’t reach Ajax, don’t quit the game- Once a heart-throb, always a heart-throb, such is a connection between a football and a football fan.
Excelling and being awarded is never an agenda, performing and self-fulfillment is what Dutch thrive at and we learn the same from them. No doubt the best team wins but the sportsmanship of the Dutch is commendable.
My first visit to AJAX left me speechless. The crowd, the football fever, the heat of the play made everything so intense that you can do nothing but watch. I was feeling so Dutch, hooting with the crowd and enjoying the cheering wave. My eyes could not believe the big crowd around. I had read that the stadium has a capacity of around 50,000 seats for football matches but when I looked around it seemed as if the whole country had stepped in.
I would really recommend anyone who comes to this country should definitely visit this spectacle. Words are not enough to express the sophistication with which it is built and the charisma it holds for any football lover.
After visiting Ajax I realized, some things are best appreciated when seen with our own eyes…this place is indeed one of them!