In our private life, we are all the time talking about Suriname, what it means to be Surinaams, our Surinaams ways of thinking, our glorious culture, cuisine and sounds. We want our readers to also know this side of us, and we want to create a fuller picture of the country that we love and that lives in our hearts and soul. One way to do this, is to introduce you to other Surinamers who represent the diversity of our land, our way of life, our passions, and our diaspora to different parts of the world. The timing is also perfect, as our featured Surinamer, Clarence Seedorf, already with an illustrious career behind him, just achieved another significant milestone in his life which we are pleased to celebrate.
Clarence Seedorf was born on April 1, 1976, in Paramaribo, Suriname, and like many Surinamers moved to the Netherlands in his youth. Suriname, captured by the Dutch in the 1600s, became an independent sovereign state on November 25, 1975, but starting in the 1960s, many Surinamers including our parents, immigrated to The Netherlands. Seedorf, reached his first major milestone when at 16 he became the youngest soccer player ever to debut for the Dutch club Ajax. After Ajax, Seedorf played for Sampdoria in Italy, Real Madrid in Spain, and finally Milan, again in Italy. Seedorf won the Champions League and the World Cup, 4 times with 3 different clubs, the first player ever to do so. As a Dutch player, he also distinguished himself, by playing the highest amount of European Club matches of all time. Seedorf has been cited as one of the top 125 best soccer players alive and nominated for the golden ball, an honor for being one the best players in all of Europe’s matches.
The accolades are plenty, respect and admiration for his skills and achievements unanimous. Clarence Seedorf had more honors than many of his peers could hope for at the end of a career. We’re kind of blushing when we say that, yet there is more. On January 16, 2014, Clarence Seedorf became head coach for the Italian Soccer Club AC Milan, the most successful club in the world of soccer with 18 FIFA titles. He is the first Surinamer to coach Milan and the first Nederlander. If you do not follow voetbal (soccer) or know the meaning or status of these clubs, we might best compare it to Jason Kidd’s appointment to coach of the Brooklyn Nets. Now imagine if the team were the Miami Heat. So yeah, we are blushing not just for the pride of a Surinamer in this role, but also for the exceptional way Clarence Seedorf has lived his life. Clarence Seedorf is a proud Surinamer whose works for his country have earned him the Commandeur in de Ere-Orde van de Gele Ster, and the Ridder in de Orde van Oranje-Nassau, the highest decorations of Suriname and The Netherlands respectively, for service to one’s country. Seedorf’s commitment to Suriname has come from among other things, his foundation, Champions for Children, which contributes to many charitable causes.
It should also be noted that Seedorf had the greatest desire to contribute to and strengthen the SVB, the Surinaams voetbal league, with a pledge for several million dollars. His only request was oversight and accountability of the distribution of funds. (Any business/foundation can attest to the importance of such requirements, the list of failed celebrity charities due to the lack of involvement by its founders is long.) Seedorf’s requirements were rebuffed. Seedorf will instead contribute his management, experience and team building to Milan. We do not begrudge him this, his reach will always be to Suriname. Congratulations Clarence Seedorf for making history, for making us proud, for standing true to our country hymn…
Eri libi, te na dede
Wi sa feti gi Sranan!
(All our lives, until death, we will fight for Suriname)…