The spread of Globalisation as given rise to countless conversations, essays and case studies discussing the effects of the global trend on our society at length. As the years go by, we begin to see the true lasting effects of Globalisation on our planet in different spheres and differing walks of life; yet football remains one of the greatest illustrations of just how pivotal this movement of folks from all across the globe has aided in the spread of different cultures and aided in the development of the sport in the tiniest crevices of the globe and some of the biggest global superpowers.
The talent drain out of the Motherland has long been cited as one of the reasons why sustainable growth has been hard to attain on The Dark Continent, yet time has allowed us to witness many of those expats and their offspring returning home to help make Mama Africa as great as she was before she was stripped of most her glory & heritage. From the corporate sphere right through to the entertainment industry, we have many foreign born or bred South Africans that have returned home to help lead this great country into a new age of prosperity and excellence that benefits mankind as a whole. Yet somehow, many of our sporting codes have shunned foreign born or based South Africans or foreigners who qualify for South African citizenship due to a perceived lack of patriotism or an inability to sympathise with our cause as a growing nation.
The announcement of Lars Veldwijk’s desire to play for South Africa may have flown largely under the radar, mainly due to a lack of exposure to the Dutch Eredivisie, a league which has afforded may young South Africans with the perfect foundation upon which to build a successful football career. Some might attribute the lack of fanfare over an overseas nurtured forward with EU papers declaring his desire to play for Bafana Bafana to the hard to forget disappointment of getting excited over Davide Somma, only to have our hopes dashed when he did finally appear in the Green & Gold over a handful of caps; yet we would be remiss to allow such fears to potentially deprive us of an opportunity to strengthen a genuine weakness in our football.
Good strikers are as rare as an upright politician in South Africa, and that plague seems to have spread across the continent where our fellow footballing nations in Africa have begun to experience a similar shortage of elite level strikers that can prove to be the difference for a national side at the international level. The availability of a man that has proven his ability to find the back of the net at a high level is not an opportunity we should turn our collective noses up towards; Lars Veldwijk would offer us something we have not had in many moons, a Bafana Bafana forward that plays regular football at the elite level in a good league while banging in a few goals, the lad is just 24 years old and possesses good scope for growth in the years to come.
A Fledgling Career In Perspective
Born in Uithoorn, in the North of Holland on August 21st of 1991, Lars Veldwijk begun his footballing journey as a youth apprentice at SV Argon, whose youth ranks he joined after showing promise with the development side at Legmeervogels. The youngster was then snapped up by FC Volendam, who developed him to play professional football and handed him his pro debut as a teenager in 2011. Lars would go on to make one more appearance for the club before FC Utrecht saw his potential and gambled on the young forward in the hopes of unearthing a rough diamond that they could polish.
FC Utrecht was a tough learning curve for the towering striker as he featured in a handful of games and faced the relative ignominy of being farmed out on loan to Eertse Divisie, 2nd Division, side FC Dordrecht for the 2012-2013 season. That spell out on loan may have been the catalyst for what has transpired since, in what can only be described as a meteoric rise to prominence for Veldwijk; 14 goals in 31 games led to the youngsters’ stock rising with his impressive displays of power, touch and finishing earning him a few admirers.
A transfer to then Eerste Divisie side SBV Excelsior proved to be a shrewd one for both club and player, Lars helped guide his new side to 3rd place, 7 points behind 2nd placed FC Dordrecht. That points haul was enough to book them a place in the play-offs and the exciting Feyenoord based club stormed to promotion into the Eredivisie with a 4-2 aggregate win over RKC Waalwijk. 30 goals in 38 games for The Kralingers was more than enough to persuade Nottingham Forest to part with £500,000 in June of 2014 to take Lars over to England in a deal that could rise to £1m if various clauses are fulfilled
Lars struggled to find his feet at the City Ground and his failure to find the net in 14 appearances for the club has led many Forest supporters to doubt if their man is really worth all the hype and money; yet a loan move back home to Holland has seen may for those doubters call for him to be given another chance to prove his quality at the club. Ambitious Eredivisie club PEC Zwolle procured the services of Veldwijk on loan for the 2015/2016 season with an option to by the player outright at the end of his current loan spell; an impressive return of 12 goals and 7 assists in 27 games sees Lars sitting 9th on the goalscorers chart, 7 goals away from tied leaders Luuk de Jong and Vincent Janssen, of PSV and AZ Alkmaar respectively.
PEC Zwolle are currently overachieving in 9th place, 2 points off the Europa League Playoff qualifying spots with 5 games remaining in the league season, with a young squad that has an average age of 23, the club and its players seem primed to continue their development in the football realm. Lars has made his desire to play for South Africa public, the lad qualifies for citizenship through his father, who holds a South African passport; the ball is now in the court of SAFA, Coach Shakes Mashaba and the Mzansi football fraternity as a whole, are we ready to do all we can to make this talented striker a Bafana player or will we continue to fight against the winds of change brought about by Globalisation?
DoB: August 21st, 1991 (24)
PoB: Uithoorn, North Holland; Netherlands
Nationalities: Dutch, South African
National Team Record: N/A
Position/s: Advanced Forward, Complete Forward, Target-Man
Height: 1. 96m
Preferred Foot: Right
Club: PEC Zwolle (On loan from Nottingham Forest)
Club Jersey No: #9
Contract Expiry: June 30th, 2017
Market Value: £1,35m
Development Nests: Legmeervogels, SV Argon
Previous Clubs: FC Volendam, FC Utrecht, FC Dordrecht (Loan), SBV Excelsior, Nottingham Forest