Erasmus Sport has placed a large screen for the duration of the World Cup, as a special service to those student athletes who love football. 21-year-old Juan Carlos from Spain, seated on his own, has his eyes glued to the screen during one game. “It’s easy enough to find a seat during the 2pm matches,” he says. “But it gets quite crowded here during the 5pm and 8pm matches.”
Bulgarian students Stefan Aleksandrov and Kristian Sofiyanski are loving the big screen. “It’s very handy that I can watch football before or after working out,” says Sofiyanski. Both have watched nearly all the World Cup games so far, and they each have their favourite team. While Sofiyanski supports Portugal, Aleksandrov secretly likes the idea of a small country winning the World Cup. “Which is why I support Iceland or Serbia.”
Many international student houses are suffering from football mania, as well. Take, for instance, German student Ben Dahmen, who, together with his flatmates, has turned his living room into a shrine to football. The ceiling has been adorned with flags representing several different countries. Colourful bunting has been hung up beneath the flags. The residents have installed a projector that allows them to view the World Cup matches on a large screen.
Dahmen shares a student house in Kralingen with six other students. “We are from different countries, including Germany, Brazil, Slovakia and Italy, but we all love football. So we thought it would be a brilliant idea to hang up our national flags during the World Cup,” the economics student tells us.
He adds, “Even though some flatmates do not have a team representing their country at the World Cup, we all watch the games with equal enthusiasm.” This means that Dahmen and his flatmates watch football in their living room nearly every night. “Since we have a large screen, our fellow students regularly come and join us. So we’ll watch a World Cup game, with crisps and beer ready to hand, and we’ll have the best evening.”
His flatmate Dario Gregori, who is half German and half Brazilian, admits that the timing of the World Cup is inconvenient. “My studies are suffering,” he says. At the moment, he devotes much less time to his studies than usual, but so far he has not regretted it. “I do revise in between matches. But I am looking forward to my summer holiday, when I will be able to watch the World Cup without any impediments.”
Dahmen thinks it would be more fun if the Netherlands had qualified to the World Cup, as well. “Then we’d really have been able to feel excitement here in the Netherlands,” he guesses. “Because if I’m honest, I feel pretty patriotic, too, when a World Cup is being held.”
Gregori confirms this. “Sometimes I think that the World Cup causes me to experience an identity crisis,” the second-year IBA student says laughing, referring to his dual nationality. “But if I absolutely had to make a choice, I’d support Germany.”