Half a World Away: For Transplanted Holland native, World Cup is 'positive crazy'
Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor

June 13, 2006 - Tjitte Tuinier went to church Sunday morning and visited with his friends as usual, but there was one subject the effervescent Pickton dairyman was careful to limit the conversation about.

When it came to the World Cup, he didn't want to know too much.

The Netherlands was playing its opening soccer match against Serbia and Montenegro Sunday morning, and Tuinier had it taping to watch when he got back home.

For Tuinier, who came to the U.S. from Holland and France, the World Cup of soccer is like the Super Bowl to football-loving Americans.

"I made a choice at 8 o'clock to put it on tape so I could go to church," Tuinier said. "When I got to Sunday School, some of the people had seen the score, but I said, 'Don't tell me a word. I want to watch it when it get home.' "

He was rewarded when Holland beat the Serbs, 1-0, in their Group C pool.

The World Cup is contested every four years, and is currently being played by 32 countries in various sites in Germany. It is watched by more people around the world than any other event.

While the World Cup brings out the ultimate expressions of nationalism from most countries - the Ecuadorian government gave everyone a half-day holiday when its team beat Poland in the opening game - it brings out only moderate emotions in the U.S.

At least for most people.

"In Holland, everybody is so interested. The whole country is crazy, but it's positive crazy," said Tuinier. "Everybody talks about it, and if someone isn't interested, I don't know what they would talk about. It's unbelievable crazy, but fun.

"For me, it's the fun, the entertainment. When it is an open game with fair play, I have fun with that. I like soccer."

Tuinier also loves speed skating - the sport he participated in as a youngster. In fact, his Pickton dairy is called All Arounder Dairy, a reference to the multiple events top speed skaters participate in, and the expectations he has from his cows.

The Tuinier family moved from Holland to France in 1994, then to Hopkins County in 2000. As he moved farther from Holland, Tuinier also moved away from exposure to speed skating.

"When we moved from Holland to France, I still had soccer. Then, we moved here, and there's not much soccer," he laughed. "We moved to a big sand pile in 100 degrees, but with air-conditioning, we have a good deal of fun."

He has maintained his love for both sports, though.

For Tuinier, he said the main thing isn't winning, but the competition that takes place in the matches.

"In the 1998 World Championships in France, I told my neighbors, when France plays Holland we will have a big barbecue in the backyard," Tuinier said, "and no matters who wins, we win.

"What I like is an open game, fair play and a lot of fun. When the game is good, the couch is too small for me."

Of course, he still closely follows The Netherlands' team in the World Cup. Though the Dutch flag is red, white and blue, the national team wears orange in reference to the monarchy's House of Orange that dates back centuries.

The Oranje, as the national team is called, inspires the 16 million people in the country to paint entire streets orange during the month-long Cup tournament. When his son and daughter-in-law, Bert and Anita Tuinier, visited Holland recently, they brought Tjitte back an orange shirt.

The Dutch are currently ranked No. 3 in the world FIFA rankings, and Tuinier said that he is looking forward to the time when Holland plays the U.S. or Mexico because he has Hispanic workers on his dairy who also follow the matches closely.

"I tell the guys who work here that when Mexico plays Holland, I will have a big barbecue in the backyard, and when the United States plays Mexico, I will have a barbecue," he said, "and no matter who wins, we win."

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