Every time I tell myself I’m going to stop writing about the differences between Holland and Belgium, because it’s starting to feel like a big cliché whenever I dedicate yet another blog post to it. Unfortunately, the funny anecdotes just keep popping up, and I’d like to share another one of those with you. So today: why ‘the Belgian mentality’ is represented beautifully in the way they handle their jersey numbers.
300 euros and you’re Ronaldo
These days its pretty in fasion, I’m assuming inspired by the ‘CR7’-madness surrounding Cristiano Ronaldo, that soccer players at all levels have their own ‘personal hashtags’. In the year 2017, you don’t have to play in the Champions League or sign a lucrative sponsor deal to walk around with cleats with your name on them. Thanks to Nike ID, miAdidas and Puma Customize, every guy and gal playing at the lowest level can play on the same cleats as the best players in the world, if only they are willing to spend 300 euros on it.
And since recently, the ‘hashtag madness’ has been added to the mix. It’s rather easy. You take your initials, add your jersey number to it, and voilà, your very own personal hashtag is born. For example, given my love for the number 24, I could start tagging all my Instagram posts with #EC24.
Cute and sad
So what is wrong with this? Nothing, to be honest. It can be kind of adoring, when a nine-year old adds their own hashtag to everything they share online, undoubtedly in the hope that one day people will be willing to pay good money for underwear with that specific hashtag on it. But on the other end, it can also be a little sad, when grown men try to compensate for their lack of success in the soccer world by throwing a couple hundred bucks at the problem, so they can at least feel like Messi or Ronaldo a bit in that area of the game.
And then there’s Belgium. I understand that my argument from here on becomes more than just a little bit of a generalisation, and you’ll never hear me say that the difference here is only constituted by country borders. But I did find it rather surprising.
At Moldavo, we don’t have ‘set’ jersey numbers. Every week, you are awarded the shirt that matches your position on the field that day. Are you playing right back, you get #2. Center forward: 9. And if you’re on the bench, your number (12, 13 or 14) lets you make an educated guess on how big your chances are of getting playing time that day. It can’t be much clearer than that.
But okay, if I had the ambition to start an underwear line, that would pose a slight problem. Because what would I choose? #EC5, based on the position I play most often? Or #EC2, because in my last game, I played right back? Or maybe even #EC14, to highlight my Dutch roots and love for Ajax? You’re allowed to laugh here, but I did consider this a little while ago (just to be clear: I considered the hashtag situation, as of this day I have no desire to start a line of underwear…).
The Belgian mentality
A few weeks ago, there was a discussion about jersey numbers at Moldavo. When someone brought up the possibility of ‘set’ numbers, meaning one person that has the same number throughout an entire season, a teammate of mine made a comment that I think perfectly represents ‘the Belgian mentality’ in this matter. ‘But wouldn’t that be weird,’ she said, ‘if I got number 9, and the next week I’d play at left back with that number?’ No, in Mol, they’re not easily impressed by #CR7. Your jersey number on Saturday is something that you have to earn, and you have to work your ass off for that during the week. Which also makes that number 5 suddenly carry a lot more prestige than when you hashtag it and put it on your underwear. The Belgian mentality, I think I prefer that one!
Thanks for reading, talk soon! 🙂