Youth Violence – Zonder Respect Geen Voetbal

This Monday the Dutch newspapers were full of the following horrific story:

“A Dutch man has died after being kicked and punched by a group of teenage football players for whom he acted as linesman in a Sunday league match.

Richard Nieuwenhuizen collapsed and was taken to hospital hours after he was beaten by three players from Amsterdam club Nieuw Sloten. He died on Monday.” Source 

You may have heard of the story, as it was in the news all around the world. Me, as a pedagogue, can’t help but wonder where in the world this sort of violence comes from. The three 15 and 16 year olds were apparently not happy with his decisions on the field and decided to confront him about it. When he did not give the ‘appropriate’ response, they attacked him. The worst thing about this story was that after they had beaten him to a pulp he did not want to report his attackers to the police. He just wanted to go home and be done with it. It wasn’t till later that he collapsed.

It was later released that that the tree kids were of Moroccan descent and of course a lot of people said things like ‘well, there you go then’ as if that is all the explanation they needed. I find this ridiculous. Descent is in no way a precursor to violence. What I do think though is that people, educators, have become afraid of addressing such issues with kids from Moroccan descent. I think this because there is a politician in this country (Geert Wilders) who has taken it upon himself to blame every bit of wrongdoing on foreigners. He does this with such malice and disregard for the people he’s talking about that he has played a lot of people against him. What I think has happened is that because of that is that people are becoming apprehensive of addressing such violent and unwanted behaviour in fear of being compared to him. It also puts the kids who he’s targeting in a sort of victim role with the mindset “if you expect the worst, you’re going to get the worst”.

How can boys derail so far that they think it’s okay to fatally harm someone because they didn’t get their way? Was there no signs of this kind of behaviour in school or at home that would have alerted someone? Were they just too scared to act upon it? Or was this kind of behaviour condoned and maybe even promoted by their parents? A sort of “show them who’s boss mentality”. I damn sure hope not.

The Dutch phrase in the title of this Blog – Zonder Respect Geen Voetbal- is the slogan which ran in all the newspapers later in the week. It means: Without Respect No Football and I sincerely hope this is true. It is about time that this country is going to put more effort into getting kids – all the kids – off the streets and into programs which prevents this kind of behaviour. When I was in my third year of my BA degree I did an internship in a secondary school near the neighbourhood where those kids were from. This means that almost all the kids weren’t of Dutch descent. A couple of times I talked to the students about Geert Wilders and about what he was saying at this time. Often, the reaction would be “if I ever see him, I’ll kill him for what he has been saying about us” and I tried to tell them.. Don’t you see that’s what he wants? He want’s you to behave like that just so he can say that he was right. Don’t give him that pleasure.

I’m afraid that the situation with these youngsters is spiralling out of control. In this aspect I am a great fan of the American school system where sports are all a part of the school. If your grades are below par, you just don’t get in. It may be an idea to implement such a system in the Netherlands as well. Obviously, the way it is now is not working at all.

Rest in Peace Richard Niewenhuizen, you volunteered at that football match out of the goodness of your heart and your love for the game. You did not deserve this kind of end. I’m sorry for what happened to you.  

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Author: EMK

Just blogging away in my free time while I try to make something of my life

5 thoughts on “Youth Violence – Zonder Respect Geen Voetbal”

  1. I am Dutch, so I’ve been following the news reports about this horrible ordeal closely. What has happened is so terrible and horrifiying that I can’t even put it into words, and I hope that for the rest of society (both in the Netherlands and abroad) this will be an eye opener, and that people will start to realise that we can’t go on like this any longer. Something needs to change, both in the way children are being raised these days, and more generally in the way society as a whole operates.

    What I don’t agree with though, is your comment about making sports part of the school system. I think your level of education should be based on your achievements in school, and not out on the playing field.

    The fact that the boys who did this are of Moroccan descent makes this situation all the more difficult, as you also mentioned. I no longer live in the Netherlands myself, and part of me is glad that I don’t, because I don’t recognise my own country anymore.

    1. Hi! First of all thanks for your comment.

      Something definitely needs to change in this country, I think that is pretty much clear. However, I think that’s probably going to be impossible because of the position we have been forced in by Wilders. Because of his attitude towards foreigners, a barrier has been raised between ‘us’ and ‘them’ and it’s going to be nearly impossible to break that down.

      There’s no question that not only society needs to change but that there also needs to be an in depth investigation about how these sort of teens are being raised. But, how big of a chance is there that the parents of these sort of kids will allow social workers and such into their home when they already want to have as little as possible to do with the Dutch community?

      That’s why I brought up the idea that sports should be a part of the school system. Of course, it’s not ideal and there are a lot of negative implications to it but it would also mean that the school would have a bigger part in raising these kids. It would mean that they have to prove that they can behave themselves before they’re allowed onto the field. At the very least, the implications for bad behaviour would reach further into their lives than just being suspended for a couple of games. Maybe, that could make a difference.

      I’m very concerned about what this country is becoming, too. The way that we are treating each other is just appalling. But as long as there are people in a public position who think it’s okay to just pit us against each other and as long as there are people who blindly follow this kind of hate spreading, it’s not going to get any better.

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