Last we left you I was sitting here at 1am half asleep trying to explain what had happened game by game with a few details in between such as the occasional camel crossing the field (yes that happens) or the occasional plane flying over head dropping skydivers. One thing I had never imagined as your sideline reporter is that after a day of sitting on the sidelines snapping pictures and chatting with people, that I would be dead tired and too sleepy to type anything; but indeed it happens.
But lets get back to our dear Dutch and their quest to do well while looking awesome at WCBU in Dubai. Day 3 really melted into day 4 for me and I’m sure I’m not alone on this. The difference being that when we awoke on Day 3 there was still the possibility, after defeating the enthusiastic and cheerful India who were appearing in only their second world’s competition, The Netherlands could still qualify for the quarter finals. The problem being that they would have to do this by winning against Canada or The Philippines… no easy task. If you know anything about this sport of ours then you know both these entities and legendary for winning… consistently. But as they say in the juice business, when life hands you lemons, you throw them back at life and insist on oranges…. something like that. Our team was determined to succeed.
By the time the face off with the friendlier North Americans had began, an insane wind had also set in. The kind of wind that creates sand storms and tosses plastic in all kinds of crazy directions. The kind of wind that can skew the balance of most any match. In this case, it created a situation where NED and CAN were in a very tight game for much of the match. The only problem was scoring, an achievement we would see very little of from either side. So when Canada took the lead early, no matter how many times our guys and gals would huck it into the end zone, inevitably the disc would jump or bank violently in some random uncatchable direction. A close match but in the end, Canada controlled the tempo and the outcome. Everything would ride on the Philippines match that evening.
Meanwhile on the sideline, as I mentioned, days are melting into days. People are tired and hot, so what you get is lots of bodies strewn around under the protection of the tents. Lots of random napping and passing out for those who aren’t playing in the next hour. And while that might sound mellow, some sidelines still feel more like a carnival atmosphere than a game. One such sideline belongs to the Philippines. Move over calm, pensive Western sidelines, this crew likes it loud, this crew likes to laugh, and this crew loves their team. Any of their players from another division that don’t have a game are right there on the sideline cheering, singing, incessantly waving flags in support of their team. It is enough to drive you mad if you happen to not be on their side. Which is how I felt watching team Oranje take on the Dragons that evening. The pressure was on, the atmosphere was tense, and the emotions could easily flare up. Of course- we’re all trained almost-professionals so we know how to deal with such situations. But still, sitting on the sideline watching our team putting their heart and soul as well as every bit of energy they’ve got left into the game that could help them break into the top 8, while what seems to be a carnival is going on around you, is a very surreal feeling. But let’s get to the meat of the issue especially since the outcome is now well known. The Philippines would win the match and that loss was a really hard one to take. Above all for one reason, our team really wanted that one. It was almost as if every bit of work, every minute of practice over the past year, was for winning this game. But the win had not happened, and the game didn’t feel good or positive. It was a bitter pill to swallow as they say in the uh… pharmaceutical industry.
From that moment on it became a quest to win the lower pool. To make sure that if in order to finish in ninth place the team had to win all three of their last games, that they would do exactly that. From Australia, to Switzerland, and back to the Czech Republic, our gang in Orange played inspired ultimate. Scrappy D, daring O, constant communication and adjustment to every situation; all the training and preparing fell into place again and it resulted in solid victories in every game of the final two days of the tournament. The Netherlands would finish 9th. The team would sit back to watch the finals and have a laugh with friends, confident and proud knowing that despite the things that didn’t happen for the team, they had fought valiantly, never given up, and done a hell of a job on and off the field. -Plus they all got a wicked sun burn.- Goodnight Dubai!