Guus Rotink has settled in Prague for his education. After adventures with university teams in Glasgow and Dublin, the Culemborger (town where I’m from) now plays football at the sixth level of the Czech Republic.
Rotink spontaneously bursts into laughter when he thinks back to his first away game with Prague Raptors, his new club since October. “When we arrived at the ground, they already had the grill plate with Czech sausages ready. The same goes fo the beer mugs. No, you would hardly feel like playing football anymore, haha.”
The 24-year-old goalkeeper from Culemborg can appreciate the Czech customs. Just like life in the Czech capital. In his spare time he likes to explore the city. “Life in Prague is cheaper than in the Netherlands, although the differences are not huge. Beer prices in particular are kept artificially low here. You usually pay around 2 euros for half a liter.”
As a student of the international master's program International Security, Intelligence and Strategic Studies, Rotink will be staying in Prague for a year. He has previously studied in Scotland and Ireland.
“And I like to play football in my spare time,” says the former goalkeeper of Focus'07 and its predecessor Fortitudo in Culemborg. ,,After Focus'07 I started playing for The Knickerbockers because of my studies in Groningen. In Scotland I played football with the team of Glasgow University FC and in Ireland with Dublin City University Soccer. And now I play for a club founded by an Englishman in 2017, especially for international students and workers. The club has forty different nationalities. My teammates come from all over; from Zimbabwe to Kazakhstan.”
The working language is logically English. “Fortunately,” says Rotink with a laugh. My Czech isn't very good yet.
His manager at Prague Raptors - Kim Grant - has a past as a footballer at the highest level in England. The Ghanaian is a former professional of Charlton Athletic FC, among others. ,,When we were watching the Portugal-Ghana World Cup match recently, Roy Keane was the pundit. “I played football against that,” said our manager. Those are funny things.”
His club plays football at the sixth level. “Comparable to the fourth division or first class in the Netherlands. Quite an acceptable level.”
The league is now on hold. Partly because of the World Cup, the winter break in the Czech Republic lasts from mid-November to early March this season. “Because of the weather conditions. Winters seem to be cold. We recently had some fog during a game. So bad that the game - with a 1-0 lead - was stopped. Strangely enough, the game then had to be played all over again. Luckily we won then too. We are now in mid table.”
Rotink has no shortage of social contacts in Prague. “Our 'class' consists of about a hundred students who, like me, are temporarily staying in Glasgow, Dublin and Prague. That makes the adventure less intense, I don't have to start from zero every time.”
The Culemborger will soon get on the train back to the Netherlands for a while. To celebrate Christmas at home. ,,Whether I return to Focus after my studies? Who knows, that also depends on what kind of work I'm going to do. I definitely want to keep playing football.”