E-man and the boys have been playing soccer nonstop since arriving in Holland. On Friday, the boys got their first taste of professional soccer in The Netherlands.
For those of you that don't know, The Netherlands is known for providing the best technical training in the world. They are very disciplined, precise, and tactical in their preparations. We in the US are overly concerned with speed, strength, and size. We treat soccer like we treat basketball, baseball and (American) football. The Dutch however, know that soccer is more like chess than like other sports. And they train on technique and strategy.
So on Friday the boys traveled to Leeuwarden for their first match. They played SC Cambuur...and they played what we consider to be U13's. The Dutch call them D2's. Basically it means they're the 11 and 12 year olds playing in the professional club. Our boys were 9 and 10. Needless to say we were completely over matched...and the 0-15 score (It was probably more than 15 but I stopped counting) demonstrated that fact. The Cambuur boys dominated.
We learned our lessons that day...whatever lessons we could glean from such a butt-kicking...and went on to Hoorn for the Hollandia International Youth Tournament. These boys were also 12 and 13...but only a few were professional clubs - others were top level amateur clubs.
The boys started the day losing 1-5 and 0-5. Then something awesome happened...they were leading the 3rd game 1-0 at the half...but ended up losing 1-2. They had their confidence however. The next game was fantastic!! They won 3-2 on a last minute corner kick from E-man to his buddy Teddy. It was a beautiful play and I hope to have video to post at some point.
The final game was tough. They were losing 0-2 at the half...but after watching our boys fight their way back playing inspired football...we tied them 2-2 and finished the day on that high note! Because of the point system used in this tournament, our boys finished 7th of 12 teams. According to one of the best soccer stars in the world (see next paragraph), the boys "really embarrassed a couple teams" that day. A high compliment from this man.
One of the off-field highlights of the day was looking across the field and seeing Ruud Gullit watching our match! Again for those of you that don't know Ruud Gullit (pron: "Rood Goo-lit"), he was voted the best soccer player in the world twice in the late 80's. He's Dutch...and played at AC Milan and Chelsea (among others) and coached at Chelsea, Newcastle, and most recently LA Galaxy. He's a legend in the soccer world and E-man squared off against his 11 y/o son. He was nice enough to pose for a picture with the boys after the tournament.