Personality can open doors but only character keeps them open.

‘Recursive variable expansion, a transformation for reconfigurable computing’,
PhD-thesis by Zubair Nawaz.

“Sunday. Football. The Sabbath day and the beautiful game may share no common bond, yet some may beg to differ. Unapologetically, I state my allegiance to this dissenting nation of passionate followers of mankind’s greatest game, which is something I’ve done from the day I could kick a ball. Football means a great many things to many different people: to some it’s pure passion, to others the very essence of life. Manchester United’s Roy Keane once described the passion of football as akin to a love affair, while the great Pele said football is like a guitar string vibrating with enthusiasm.
Back in Nigeria, Sunday was holy for two reasons. It was Sabbath and the day of the week when we, the residents of Makurdi, made our weekly pilgrimage to the Aper Aku stadium:  Makurdi’s very own theatre of dreams, where we cheered on our darling team, Lobi Stars FC, in the Nigerian Premier League. But upon moving to the Netherlands I had to take on a new following, adapting and rekindling my passion for a new team. The process of making up my mind, of deciding which Dutch club team to root for, came naturally, like the calling every passionate football fan feels. For me the choice was simple: Sparta Rotterdam. 
So why did I opt for the Kasteelheren (Lords of the Castle) as Sparta’s supporters are called, and not for Feyenoord, their much bigger and more famous Rotterdam arch rivals? Or why not Ajax Amsterdam, where my Nigerian compatriots, Kanu Nwankwo, Tijjani Babangida and George Finidi, once thrilled the fans at Amsterdam Arena? Incidentally, my choice of Sparta was also made based on the fact that the team currently includes a compatriot, Ayodele Adeleye, a rock-solid defender.
More so, Rotterdam is the one Dutch city that has left quite an impression on me: its breath-taking architecture, über hip lifestyle, cool bars and cafés, art scene and night life have all greatly impressed me. I fell in love with the city the moment I first set foot there. And so I became a Spartan or Kasteelheer, a supporter of this, the oldest professional football club in the Netherlands. To complete my initiation into the brotherhood at het Kasteel (the Castle), Sparta’s home ground, I requested a club card and now loyally don the team’s famous red and white stripes with pride and passion.
In truth, before moving to the Netherlands, my knowledge of Dutch football was rooted in the exploits of three football teams: Ajax Amsterdam, Feyenoord Rotterdam and PSV Eindhoven (the latter especially, as the Brazilian Ronaldo (El Phenomeno) had played there). Although Holland is famous for creating the concept of ‘Total Football’, Dutch football was simply never shown on TV in Nigeria, and hence its popularity was as nothing compared to English Premiership teams like Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool, whose matches were always broadcast. This explains why most Nigerian kids grew up supporting English football teams, since in those days none of us had ever heard of  Sparta, Feyenoord, PSV or Roda JC, or of the great Dutch players like Ruud Gullit, Marco van Basten and Holland’s famous ‘number 14’ Johan Cruyff – except of course if they had played in England.
But living in the Netherlands has made me appreciate Dutch football much more. I now watch Dutch club teams on TV and go to games at het Kasteel whenever I can. And come Sunday next football season I will once again join the Kasteelheren faithful in the beautiful port city of Rotterdam as we don the red and white in support of our beloved Sparta.”

Bemgba Nyakuma, from Nigeria, is a second-year MSc student at the Faculty of Applied Sciences. He can be contacted at:

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