With the soccer being an important activity that Happy’s organizes for the children, one of the things he had been hoping to see and find out more about during his stay in the Netherlands was the way soccer is organized at this end and under what circumstances the people play it.
To give him an impression of what a professional soccer stadium looks like, we took him to the city of Eindhoven where one of the country’s leading soccer clubs, PSV, is based. Visiting the stadium of this club, which is called “Philips Stadion” has clearly been a very impressive experience for Happy.
The beautiful and very modern stadium is located in the centre of Eindhoven and is known as one of the most beautiful stadiums in the Netherlands, not in the last place because of the stands being very close to the playing surface, its fantastic pitch and the fine facilities for the press and for business relations. The stadium has a seater capacity of 35,000 seats of which many are covered and heated!
From one of the restaurants that are part of the stadium we could enter a stand which hosts VIP’s during matches and from there we indeed experienced the closeness to the actual playing surface. What we saw was a perfectly looking and maintained playing surface with people actually working on that while we were enjoying the sight from the stand. Happy has enjoyed standing there for quite a while, taking it all in and enjoying it while at the same time thinking of course realizing the huge discrepancy with the circumstances in Uganda.
The photos below give a short impression of our time spent in the amazing “Philips Stadion”:
Also, a few weeks ago one of the students of ROC de Leijgraaf, Davey Bernard, invited Happy to attend a competition of the team of 13 -14 year old players which he coaches. On a very cold and wet Saturday morning, I went with Happy to the home base of Uden based soccer club “Udi 19”, which is the biggest of three that our city has.
Both Happy and I were amazed to learn that the club has 1650 members, divided over many teams, and that it has seven soccer fields! After the competition, which was won by the “Udi 19” team, Happy was given the opportunity to tell the boys from the team about his activities. The boys were listening with great attention and promised to do their best to provide used soccer materials for the children. Last but not least, Davey surprised Happy by handing me two beautiful soccer shirts!
Thank you, Davey Bernard, for giving Happy this wonderful experience!
The photos below show the huge differences in circumstances under which a team in the Netherlands and a team in Uganda trains….Not only do the Ugandan children lack proper clothes and shoes; also materials such as shin guards, balls, and other materials are far from sufficiently available. It is heartbreaking to see how the Ugandan children have to play often bare feet on sandy grounds with many stones that often cause them wounds.
Happy is so happy to see how during his stay here in the Netherlands many soccer materials for the children have already been donated. With the skills already there, all that the children need is to be provided the clothes and the materials that will help them to play under more comfortable circumstances.