A Dutch toast for Belgium

The mayor of the neighbouring Belgian town Riemst even came along to inaugurate the new border and officially welcome his town's 1,420 newest residents.

Support in a fun and unusual way for the Belgium team.   -  Courtesy: Cafe de Pepel FB page

For just a few weeks, a small Dutch cafe is migrating across the border into Belgium to cheer on the Belgian national team as it dreams big in the EURO 2016.

The Netherlands failed to make it through the qualifying rounds to take part in Europe's showcase football event which kicks off on Friday, leaving many football-mad fans in this small nation bereft.

"At the beginning I was sad that the Netherlands had been knocked out of the EURO, but I'm a Belgium supporter and I wanted to support them in a fun and unusual way," cafe owner Coen Smits said.

The 32-year-old and some friends came up with the idea of moving the bollards that symbolically mark the border between the two countries about 300 hundred metres (yards) to ensure his cafe De Pepel is now — temporarily at least — inside Belgium and not part of the southern Dutch town of Maastricht.

The mayor of the neighbouring Belgian town Riemst even came along to inaugurate the new border and officially welcome his town's 1,420 newest residents, the Flemish daily Het Laatste Nieuws said.

The local priest baptised the new frontier with a glass of Belgian beer, instead of holy water.

In his cafe, decked out in the black-yellow-red colours of the Belgian team instead of Dutch orange, Smits plans to serve special beers, accompanied by plates of chips as matches are played on a big screen.

This fan of the Belgium Red Devils hopes to win over a "nice mix" clients, both Dutch and Belgian. "There's no rivalry between the two nationalities. We have Dutch clients who love this idea and who have even become Belgium supporters."

Without his bright idea, however, there might have been fewer festivities in this tiny corner of Europe during the continent's four-week EURO football bonanza.

"That's why we thought of doing this, to give free rein to our fan instincts and be part of this huge gathering," said Smits.

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