Hand in hand Erasmians!

De Kuip
Crowd in front of City Hall on Coolsingel, seen from the air. Photo taken during Feyenoord's ceremony as cup winners 2015-2016.
Paul Martens

The Feyenoord championship fever did not skip our campus. Many of our students and staff have been looking forward to this past weekend for months. So did Robin van den Akker, Katinka Dijksta, Lilian Jillissen, Hovik Hovhannisyan, Camiel Porte, Jacco van Sterkenburg and Jade Westra. They may not be in the lecture rooms or in the office today, but in the Hofplein pond!

Going for a walk during the match

Lilian Jillissen, service director Education & Student Affairs (E&S), is a big Feyenoord fan, but hasn't seen a match this season. "My husband is also a big fan, but he can't actually handle watching matches. When Feyenoord plays, we almost always go for a walk to prevent him from looking at his phone too much. It makes him very stressed. By the way, we will watch the championship match."

Professor of Brain & Cognition Katinka Dijkstra with her husband in front of De Kuip
Professor of Brain & Cognition Katinka Dijkstra with her husband in front of De Kuip

Things are different for Katinka Dijkstra, professor of Brain & Cognition: "We live on the 32nd floor next to the Willem de Kooning Academy with a view of the stadium. I watch all the matches and go to De Kuip myself sometimes. Arne Slot has really forged a good team this year. Feyenoord's fighting spirit especially appeals to me. They just keep going."

De Kuip memories

"When I went to the Kuip as a 13-year-old with a friend and her father, I simply thought 'wow'. What a stadium, what an atmosphere, what a cohesion among all the fans at the Kuip," says psychology student Jade Westra. Jade moved to the city on the Maas for her studies. She keeps fond memories of that time when her parents and sister came to visit and they spontaneously went to a Feyenoord match with the whole family. "Especially the enthusiasm of my sister, who is actually not a football fan at all, was very nice to see ." Camiel Porte, cloud administrator and developer at EDIS can also be found at De Kuip regularly: "My first time at De Kuip was in 2002 during the UEFA Cup quarter-final against PSV. Pierre van Hooijdonk made a fantastic header. That was the biggest discharge at De Kuip ever and I was there."

Hovik Hovhannisyan with a couple of his Feyenoord shirts
Hovik Hovhannisyan with a couple of his Feyenoord shirts When he goes to the Coolsingel on Monday, he will wear the shirt on the left.

A match as a service of honour

Hovik Hovhannisyan is a tutor at Erasmus School of Law and was tipped as one of the biggest Feyenoord fans on our campus. He collects Feyenoord shirts and - not entirely coincidentally - also has a business in vintage football shirts. Hovik says he sees many similarities between football and religion: "How football is experienced is just like a religion, isn't it? I marvel at this and also get totally taken in by it."

The religious aspect is confirmed by philosopher and coordinator at Erasmus University College Robin van den Akker: "A home game is a sacred moment for the people in the stadium. It is a kind of service of honour with a set programme and chants. You also see football clubs increasingly fulfilling a social function with youth programmes, for example. All this is a manifestation of people's religious needs."

Psychology student Jade Westra at De Kuip three days after her surgery
Three days after her surgery, Jade was able to go to Feyenoord last minute and was sitting in De Kuip already.

Collaborating with Feyenoord

Erasmus University Rotterdam also collaborates with Feyenoord. For example in the #FEYEUR link, internships and through our university's Science Hub. Professor Katinka Dijkstra: "We developed football exercises together with Feyenoord, other football clubs and youth workers based on scientific insights to facilitate personal growth of children and young people. In it, themes such as optimism, coping mechanisms, motivation and friendship emerged. This is how they learn life lessons: being resilient and getting something done under difficult circumstances."

Lilian Jillissen, service director Education & Student Affairs (E&S) in front of De Kuip
Lilian Jillissen

Professor Jacco van Sterkenburg also collaborates with Feyenoord for research: "We look at the role of football heroes, for example." Jacco van Sterkenburg's area of research is mainly about discrimination, racism and inclusion in professional football. There have been a few things about that last season, including at Feyenoord. "Football is emotion, the filters fall away. That can have a negative effect, as you saw with the lighter incident with Davy Klaassen."

A great sense of happiness in the city

"But something like that can also shoot in the positive direction. Especially with a championship, you see that on several levels," Van Sterkenburg says. "Real fans feel good when the club is doing well and bad when things are going badly. So a championship gives a great feeling of happiness for many people in the city. But even residents of the city who are not necessarily fans do feel proud when there is a championship because Feyenoord is connected to the city, it is a signboard."

When Feyenoord lost to AS Roma in the Europa League, Hovik was upset for three days. “If I saw something about it, I clicked it away.”

Collection that got out of hand
In addition to his work at Erasmus University, Feyenoord fan Hovik Hovhannisyan runs his own company. A few years ago, Hovik came across a special shirt from Arsenal, a vintage shirt that he could buy on Ebay. The price made him hesitate for a while, but he had to have the shirt. It was the beginning of a now large collection of football shirts. He and a friend came up with the idea of buying the shirts in larger quantities, so that they could resell some of them and collect their own shirts for free, as it were. “It got a bit out of hand,” says Hovik. He turns out not to be the only enthusiast, the shirts are flying out of the webshop. In addition, they do not have to fight for the Feyenoord shirts, because his partner is an Ajax player.

Escaping from everyday worries

"The stuff surrounding Feyenoord, the lighter incident and the 'Rotterdam Jongeren Harde Kern', saddens me. But with a championship, however, you see the togetherness and the joy about it rippling through the city. Then you clearly see the value of football or a sport in people's lives," says Robin van den Akker.

He continues: "That is also the religious or sacred thing about football. They are events that make a certain group and are out of the order of normal life. You see this perhaps even more strongly at Feyenoord than at other Dutch clubs. Suffering is part of the club and its identity, a championship the redemption. You see here very strongly the distinction between the 'profane' or the ordinary, and the 'sacred' or the 'religious'. This connects a group and transcends everyday concerns. 'Anthropotechnics' is what this is called, or: how human beings shape themselves."

Camiel Porte, Cloud administrator and developer at EDIS at De Kuip
Camiel Porte

On the Coolsingel, in the Hofplein pond, on the Binnenrotte and in front of the EUC

How are our Feyenoorders celebrating the champions' party today? Jade Westra: "I am really looking forward to the fun party at Stadhuisplein to celebrate the inauguration with my friends and fellow Feyenoord fans." Camiel Porte is watching the championship match at Café van Zanten on the Binnenrotte. "That's also where I was six years ago during the championship game. It was a big party and it will be again. It can't go wrong anymore. I am so proud of the team."

Lilian Jillissen can also be found on Coolsingel: "My favourite Feyenoord song is ‘Niets is sterker dan dat ene woord…’ (Nothing is stronger than that one word). It gives such a special feeling when that song is sung by tens of thousands of fans in the stadium. It gives a sense of connection. Hopefully that will also be sung on Coolsingel when we are champions. I'll be there again then too." She also takes a photo in front of the Erasmus University College (EUC) square at every championship: "There used to be a Feyenoord café on that spot. Every time, we take the same photo at the same spot with all the friends and all the kids on it. In 1999 and 2017, we already took this photo and we are doing it again this year."

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