Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Lithuanian basketball, Latvian ice hockey and some random observations

Finally I managed to get to know a little bit more about Lithuania and its fascination for basketball. Earlier this month I visited my first basketball match together with some other curious foreign students. Kaunas’ team Zalgiris played against Cedevita Zagreb from Croatia in the Euro league. The spectacle took place in the Zalgiris area a few blocks away from where I live. This building has been in use since 2011 but hosted already the playoffs and finals of the 37th European Basketball Championship which was held in Lithuania. I was actually there last year during one of the first concerts ever given at that place. Jean Michel Jarre, the master of synthesizer live in Kaunas! Well, I couldn’t miss out on that one of course. 


Even in a non-ballooning post I can't resist this small reference to my biggest hobby. Isn't this a cool toy?! I'm not so sure about the text written on it though. Lazy Bos ;-)?

The arena was filled with fanatic supporters wearing green-white supportive shirts and scarves. Since we arrived way too early we managed to watch the warming up of the Zalgiris players right in the middle of the basketball field. My goodness, these men are tall. Maybe a strange little thought, but I finally figured out where all the colored fellow men living in the Baltics have been hanging out. They’re just all basketball players! Coming from one of the most multicultural colored nations of Europe I’m sometimes still astonished how less colored people can be found here actually. That will probably change now the Baltics slowly found their way towards wealth and prosperity, thanks to a lot of supportive money from the European Union of course. Good, let them handle with minorities! I notice more and more often how tolerant Dutchmen actually are against homosexuals, refugees, etc. I hope Lithuania can learn something from that. One day. Maybe. Hopefully.

Ok, I’m starting to drift off now so let’s get back to the basketball play. In order to follow the game quite some concentration was needed. It went all pretty fast and it's quite easy to miss out on spectacular shots. The atmosphere was great; fanatic but calm and comfortable. I’ve been visiting a lot of ice hockey matches of Dinamo Riga playing against other, mainly Russian, teams in the Kontinental Hockey League. There the atmosphere is way more embittered, and to be honest I really enjoy that. Especially during matches against teams from Moscow you just feel the underlying historical and political tension throughout the game. Furthermore, I could sing along all yells supporting Riga, in Latvian, yes. 

  
For 4.40 euro you can't expect the best seats, but hey, the view was actually pretty good from here!

There were a lot of little breaks in between the match in which happy mascots were dancing around. I still don’t really understand why the mascot of Zalgiris looks like a Viking but that might be another example of the Baltics wanting show their connection with Scandinavia, even though in my eyes that’s a one-sided process. 

I was a bit shocked by the young cheerleaders actually. They performed some small dances and showed at least ten different outfits during the whole game. Their dancing was good, really good, wish I could move like that. However, they were dressed so extremely sexistic and also their moves were often not really age-appropriate. Many men probably enjoyed it, but still, it emphasized a little too much on the objectification of women. Till so far the feminist talking. 

So, all in all I enjoyed the basketball match but still I’d prefer going to an ice hockey play. Future will tell if it stays like that. Maybe I just have to learn some Lithuanian supportive yells in order to feel more at home during the basketball games. Riga stole my heart so I’ll always have warm feelings for the city, its hockey club and of course Latvia itself. I don’t feel this strong bond with Kaunas. Yet. That will probably come in half a year or so. We’ll see.  

Appropriate flags during the basketball match. I remember I once visited a Dinamo Riga ice hockey game where suddenly a flag popped up twice the size of these ones, depticing a huge Lenin. Oeeeww!

Besides this first introduction to Lithuania’s basketball mania I also visited the cinema in order to watch a documentary on Lithuania, basketball during Soviet occupation and the road to independence. The movie is called ‘The other dream team’ and since this blogpost has become a little longer than on first hand expected I’ll elaborate on my cinema visit in another post.

Keep on reading folks! Statistics show that every month the amount of visitors increases. Lately especially the number of Americans and Russians visiting my website expanded enormously. Nice! That motivates me to keep on writing. You know, whenever you have a comment or an idea, please let me know by sending an e-mail to nienke[at]airdreams.nl  Thanks!