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World Cup 2010: Indonesia roots for former foe

Many Indonesians will support Holland Sunday despite its role as a former colonial occupier.

But not Ariefin Makaminan. “With Holland it’s more emotional,” said the program manager at the Indonesian-Netherlands Association. He was born and educated in the Netherlands and said nearly 350 years of Dutch presence in Indonesia has created a real sense of shared heritage.

“Indonesians have forgotten the negative side of [colonization],” said Ariefin, explaining that the Dutch have invested heavily in development projects and provided grants and other financial backing to the country. A few of the Dutch players also have Indonesian blood, he said.

Captain Giovanni Christian van Bronckhorst’s mother comes from the Maluku Island chain in Eastern Indonesia and Indonesians speculate that Nigel de Jong and Gregory van der Wiel have some roots here also. But it’s not just bloodlines and battles that connect the Netherlands to Indonesia.

“There is a lot of influence here from Holland — in the food and the language,” said Esty Pandean, an employee at a communications firm in central Jakarta. She was one of five female employees eager to discuss the game on Friday. “Go Orange,” her colleague shouted from her cubicle to show her support for the Netherlands.

Generation X Indonesians have grown up surrounded by Dutch influences — most of them positive. Some have studied or lived in the Netherlands and some have Dutch relatives. Others say the mere fact that people in the Netherlands have some knowledge and understanding of Indonesia has been enough to keep relations warm and fuzzy.

But not all Indonesians are supporting the team in orange. Monik Soraya wants Spain to win, and she thinks their chances are good.

“They’ve always struggled in the beginning but pulled it together in the end.” she said, referring to their performance in past European cups.

Ginan Koesmayadi, the captain of a football team set to represent Indonesia in the Homeless World Cup in September, said he is backing Spain because they make short passes and play with a positive attitude.

The split between Spain and the Netherlands seems about even — perhaps because Indonesians have been forced to pick between two teams that were unlikely contenders for the final going in. Noyo and his gambling buddies were all initially rooting for Brazil.

However fair weather their alliances, Indonesians are clear about their feelings for the Netherlands. Dutch colonization is “so yesterday,” said film producer Mira Lesmana. “Our government continues to colonize us now, and still we love this country.”