Coach travels all the way from Holland to teach locals soccer

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 23, 2002

When Rimmert Zelle arrived in Suffolk nearly two weeks ago, the Netherlands native couldn’t believe its size.

&uot;Everything is very big,&uot; Zelle said. &uot;The cars, the houses, the restaurants, everything. We don’t have Wal-Marts in Holland. McDonald’s is one of our biggest restaurants, but only the biggest cities have Burger King and Pizza Hut.&uot;

Nevertheless, Zelle had a job to do; extend his teachings of soccer to Suffolk youths for the past week and a half. Tuesday evening, he gave a session at Birdsong Recreation Center.

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&uot;When you are the coach, you have to have good communication with your players,&uot; he said. &uot;You can always get them better if you do good things with them. A quarrel is not good for the team, because you are always building the team. You get good results when you play with a lot of pleasure.

&uot;I teach because I like to coach other people. Adults or children, it does not matter. I don’t do it for the money, but I don’t earn badly!&uot;

In his playing days, Zelle was a star header for the professional team Heerenveen. &uot;I was good at heading the ball because of my length (height),&uot; he said with a smile. &uot;I was never good enough to be a professional, but I was their top amateur.&uot;

Last Friday night, Zelle watched his first American football game at Windsor High School. He was surprised by the number of things going on outside of the game.

&uot;In Europe, the game is the show,&uot; he said of his country’s soccer. &uot;The result is the only important thing. We don’t have bands like America. We had cheerleaders once, but the people said, ‘Away with them! We’re here for the game!’&uot;

Sports aren’t the only adjustment he’s had to make while discovering American culture. &uot;When Americans go out to eat, they want their food right now! They eat fast and they leave,&uot; Zelle said. &uot;In Holland, you are at restaurants for two, three hours at a time. You go there, wait, talk to your friends, have something to drink. When the food comes, you eat slowly.&uot;

Food is one of many things that are less expensive in the states. &uot;Our gasoline costs three times as much as America, and our taxes are higher. With my earnings, I pay 50 percent taxes. People that make more pay 60 percent.&uot;