In Holland you see amulets in different places. Think amusement parks, such as Pardoes van de Efteling and Rick de Kikker van Duinrell. But some sports clubs also have a club, such as Phoxy from PSV and Thunder from basketball club Groningen Donar.
They emerged in the Dutch sports world in the 1990s, says Ruud van der Knapp, sports marketer for Triple Double. “Many football clubs have one, but a club like NAC Breda consciously chooses not to have it. They find an unnecessary spell there; the fans create the atmosphere themselves,” he told EditieNL.
He sometimes sees the mascot as having a connection to the club’s past. “For example, you have a Coentje in Feyenoord, which is named after Coen Moulijn. Or it’s an animal from the area.”
Amulets in the Netherlands are often aimed at children. “They aim to draw the children’s attention to the club in a positive way.”
In the United States, amulets have a broader function. “You see them a lot there. Also the sports experience is very different there. A lot of things are always happening around. On the screens and in the field you can see the artists performing at half-time, or when the match comes to a standstill. Not only the mascots, but also the cheerleaders .in Europe we are a little more sober.”
To be a charlatan, it’s important to interact well with your audience, says Michel van Inde. He has been a mascot on Walibi, Dolphinarium, and TV shows for many years. He now has his own entertainment company and is training amulets. “You have to be able to communicate non-verbally, because the amulet is not allowed to speak. So you have to picture things quite a bit.”
The ability to empathize is also indispensable. “Certainly with children, because some of them find amulets very exciting. Improvisation is also important. In a sports competition you often joke with the audience.”
However, the spontaneity depends on the moment. “We also make performances of ourselves, designed in advance. But then, in meeting and greeting, you must be able to respond to the person in front of you. Then you can, for example, respond to someone’s eye-catching shoes.”
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