by Pim van Nes
On opening day of present European Championship tournament in the Netherlands (Friday Sept 7), Rotterdam based nation wide newspaper Algemeen Dagblad (Dutch for General Daily Paper) came out with a four columns interview by sports journalist Bart Boerop with Dutch national team manager Brian Farley with a photo showing Farley in front of his team’s dug-out during recent Haarlemse Honkbal Week.
Some extracts from the interview article:
Just ask ten people at random which country is holding European Championship title in baseball and most of them say, the Netherlands of course. Sorry, the national team did conquer last year’s World Championship, but a year before it had to concede the European title to arch rival Italy. In front of their own fans, the Dutch national team as from to-night will be hunting to recapture the European crown.
Two years ago ( . . . ) the European tournament was held in mid summer time, i.e. when baseball seasons across the world had not yet finished keeping Dutch professional players in USA employed and not available for their national team. Without some of their best players, the Netherlands consequently were defeated by Italy. However, this year (mid September) in Rotterdam national team manager Brian Farley has a roster with ten professional players. The way towards the European titel is entirely open, also according to Farley.
Boerop: Does your team need to grow during the first few days of the tournament or is it ready to go ahead fully right away to-night versus Belgium?
Farley: We want to present ourselves right away versus Belgium. I want that to be an example for the next games. Our position is different from the one in last year’s World Cup, where we were under-dog. Now we are the favorites and we play on home ground. Having lost European championship 2010 is an advantage now. Hunger is back. Our idea is that if we can win a World Cup tournament, we should be able to conquer the European title, too.
Boerop: Why are pro players so eager to join our national team, even for a European tournament being less challenging than a World Cup?
Farley: They are fond of playing in the Netherlands national team. We have a lot of fun. Everybody loves winning and winning we do frequently. We are quite good. Additionally they like such a tournament. It is completely different from their long lasting pro season. A pro competition is a marathon and our tournament here is a sprint. Every game counts. That is what they like.
Boerop: Would they also want to be and to stay in the picture approaching next year’s World Baseball Classic?
Farley: Undoubtedly that is part of our story. All best baseball players of the world want to participate in the Classic. Everybody is longing to be there. But first we want to perform here and that is what’s going to happen for sure.
Boerop: Playing a European tournament, does not it mean to wait for the great finale between the Netherlands and Italy?
Farley: Spain last week beat Italy and they really have a very good team. On paper the Netherlands and Italy show best stats and have best chances, but paper does not grant you a championship. If paper would, the Dutch national soccer team would have reached their European Cup finale. It is on field where you have to win games. Also a favorite team can lose a game. That happens from time to time. My job is to prevent this to happen.
Pim van Nes: Sometimes re-reading a newspaper a few days later turns out to be as enjoyable as fresh the first morning.