After Belgium blew out the Netherlands on Saturday night, Emma Meesseman posted this photo of her and her grandfather on Instagram earlier Sunday morning:
Meesseman’s post confirms that playing a game in Ieper meant a lot to her personally. When you add that Belgium played against the Netherlands, their arch rival and an opportunity to play at the gym she spent a lot of time at, it all makes sense.
Her 28 point performance against the Dutch may have been a message to some skeptics here in America who may insinuate that she’s not as committed to the WNBA. Or they may think that some other Mystics players could feasibly replace her in light of a recent five game win streak. I think her performance last night, along with the Mystics’ loss to the Lynx last Friday proved skeptics wrong.
But Meesseman’s performance had another angle to it as well. It was a thank you to Opa* Meesseman, who saw his granddaughter play in a national team uniform for the very first time. From looking at his eyes, he may have been crying tears of joy to see her beat the Dutch down like there was no tomorrow.
The Mystics this season have run a narrative about players coming to the region where they grew up or went to college. Elena Delle Donne did it. Kristi Toliver did it. Shatori Walker-Kimbrough and Tierra Ruffin-Pratt also had local ties before they arrived.
But for Meesseman, there is no WNBA team or even a major professional team in Ieper, Antwerp, Brussels, or even Amsterdam if she wants to play in front of a Dutch speaking audience. The friendlies she played over the last couple weeks gave her an opportunity to play a few games at home as well, even if it was just for a little while.
Either way, I’m very happy to see that Meesseman’s grandfather had a chance to see her play for the national team at home beating the team they want to beat the most no matter what.
*Opa means grandpa in Dutch. It sounds a lot like 오빠 (oppa) in Korean, which literally means older brother — ONLY if a female says it. Males use a different word for older brother. But today, Korean women say oppa to many male friends now. It’s just coincidence that folks in Korea, Belgium, and the Netherlands have a word that sounds somewhat similar and has a loosely related meaning. Wonder if some Dutchmen or Belgian men said “opa” in Korea and saw a bunch of weird looks.