And so it Began
by one of the founding Fathers RADU (Bigg Budha)
Once upon a time…….we had an idea. Many before us have had the same idea. Some of us succeeded, some didn’t. Though some ideas are more crucial than others, we should still value all equally. Because no matter how small some of these ideas may be, they can grow into a principle. Vatos has become…..a principle.
In 1999, a few friends had the idea to raise a thought. A thought of brotherhood, a thought of union. I remember well, what lied behind this thought. With the years, our time became more valuable. Our patience grew thinner. Once school colleagues, work mates, and other forms of friends…….now, growing apart with other life responsibilities. As I speculated about the future, I wondered how much I would still see these friends, how much we would still experience……together?! Perhaps, I would find myself, maybe in the year 2009, reminiscing about that thought, I had in 1999, and I would’ve wondered if I would look back, and say, “What a shame…. that I didn’t pursue that idea.” So instead, I did.
I spoke to like-minded comrades about the idea. We all were in agreement. Let’s indeed put into action what we then only discussed in words. As the new millennium began, the thought was realized. I had contacted several organizations requesting, no….demanding, that we would come with 13 young men, pay contribution, and settle in with our very own Baseball Team.
What you say? I hear you, your thoughts, your giggles. A baseball team you say?! Hold on, let me continue, and much more will be revealed. For this is not what it seems, on the surface. This is much grander….much.
Only one organization agreed to our terms, in the district of “Watergraafsmeer.” Xanthos, as they were called, later to return to their old name, OVVO. A Baseball organization in the Eastern regions of Amsterdam. They humored us with our own team, with our own players, our own team colors, and our own team name.
In the old Mexican tradition, later embraced by the poor ghettos of Los Angeles, this simple, yet poignant word was slang, street lingo, for “Buddy’s”, “Mates”,”Friends”. After all, this is what we were. Vatos.
Amusement to many, a joke to some. Surely a good laugh, for as long as it lasts, to those who saw this team spring to life. Well, we surely started like it. On our first ‘crusade’ as a legitimate baseball team, we did not return home victorious. A 31 to nothing defeat in our first ever game hit home hard. Quite shameful one might think.
Well, it is here, where we begged to differ. Our intentions, from the beginning where always possibly quite trivial. We knew our value, it was not on the field. It was never meant to be. The value lay in something else. Friends who were growing apart, was inevitable. Time will certainly tell. But perhaps we can slow down that time. By coming together every weekend, for those 6 months a year, and enjoy the scarce time we had. A day, in a week, we could still be juvenile, be merry, be ourselves. In the changing rooms, on the practice field, in the dugout and after the game. Where we sit, in the grass, on a hopefully mild day, sharing a cold beer, and so much more than that. Sweaty, dirty, and ailing, as we’re paying the price for our earlier years, where we thought youthfulness would last forever. Perhaps not, when you spend your young days in Amsterdam, with all its seductions. Still, the spirit in tact however.
That virgin year, in 2000, was a blissful one. I opted to depart and seek a future in cinema in Los Angeles. And before the end of our sporting season even ended, I took a 10.000 kilometer flight to the end of the world. “Well done boys”, I said. “Well done, for creating a baseball team, brought together by friends, and friends of friends”. What character we showed, to even realize this, in a climate, where this all american great sport is hardly considered as such. I bid my fellows farewell.
However, friends remain friends, vatos remain vatos, even if there are oceans dividing us. And the idea of a team of friends, enjoying their precious company in the form of sport is not bound by anything. To my pleasant surprise, it continues.
Every so often, I return to the stomping ground. And with utter pride I walk onto the field, where I am welcomed, by VATOS, recognized and respected, perhaps more than I deserve. I play the game I so love, with a bunch of individuals I so admire.
As the years pass, vatos come, vatos go. But vatos never cease to exist. Because memories never fade.
And another year, and another year, and another….
Now, 10 years later, a 10th season in sight. However, with that, also an obstacle, one that will stop us in our tracks. The fairy tale has lasted long enough?! The establishment, shall make demands? OVVO demands back its heritage? In another millennium we were granted our team, with our character and our name. Now, they’ve come to collect? The VATOS should become OVVO again? What is this? We were merely a small and jester-like team? One for everyone’s amusement? However now, many years later, we are fruitful. We have found our winning ways. We have grown and become something else. Our own establishment. One to be reckoned with. One full of life and passion. One that has gained the respect and dignity it had always deserved. Now? Now they want it back? Absolved into their own? I think not.
This, is where it al changed. This, is where an idea becomes a principle. Where these vatos, knew, and always have, that this team, is not about just sports. The principle of sport, is that of union, not merger. With that, there should be no surrender of our identity.
Behold, a new organization is born. Not just a team, not just for laughs, but for its sincerity and for that what it believes in.
Like many organizations before, its principles are rooted, in the mentality, in the belief that we want to create something that lasts, that is memorable. Against all odds, this is accomplished. The value that holds, is remarkable. And remember this, for the memory will be ever lasting, many years from now, you will look back, at this time…….and smile.
We are leaders, not followers. We don’t imitate, we innovate.
Dear brothers, comrades, VATOS. Here’s to you, for I once had an idea, that you have now turned into something much bigger.
HSV VATOS. Because we all know, it is written……………