How the Dutch women's national team did all it takes to be a part of the first-ever Women’s Euro Beach Soccer League
Beach soccer never ceases to amaze us with stories of people that make our sport a consistently better place. It is these these people and their actions which set beach soccer apart, and shows how strong their love for the sport really is.
This year we discovered a behind-the-scenes story of the Netherlands women’s national team, who put all their time and resource into being able to take a part in the first-ever Women’s Euro Beach Soccer League.
Playing at the maiden edition of the EBSL was their dream, a goal to work towards. The passion for the sport, the will to train and improve, and their commitment to the cause were never in doubt; the only issue financial support.
“So we decided to turn that problem into a challenge”.
And this is how the mission began. Thinking about big partners was not an option, but they had to think big, starting small…
Each player starting spreading the word, rallying essential support from family and friends, who made small contributions to make their beach soccer dream come true.
But that wouldn’t be enough, and that’s when Mariël Miedema came in with another idea: collecting bottles for cash. In the Netherlands, a recycling incentive was set up whereby you can receive a small amount on money (around 10 cents) for every bottle you return to the shop after use.
Mariël started a Facebook campaign to let everybody know that she wanted people’s bottles and that she would collect them from their houses… House by house, day by day, and thousands of bottles later, the dream was began to take shape and eventually became a reality – they were going to Nazaré!
No matter the challenges, this team was ready to work together towards a common goal. They had been training hard for months, without even knowing if they would make it to the comeptition.
“They insisted on training from the start. They wanted, so badly, to be ready.”, team manager, Maikel Schats, explains.
“I still remember during the first week of March, with temperatures hardly above 0ºC, they called me and said: ‘let’s start training this week!’ It was so cold, and the sand was freezing, but how could I tell them otherwise, seeing their spirit and their eagerness. I have so much respect for the girls and their attitude.”
On top of the bitter weather conditions, the training facilities are hardly close by for some of the girls, who live far from Amsterdam, and have to travel two hours each way from their home cities like Heerenveen, Siegerswoude (near Drachten), Zwolle, Heerhugowaard or Terneuzen. If this isn’t a way to show your love for beach soccer, we don’t know what it is.
However, there were still more sacrifices to be made as when the competition approached. Some players, also had to juggle their professional lives to be able to compete, such as Nidia Bos, former professional footballer at Excelsior (Eredivisie), who had just took over the farm from her parents weeks before.
“It was difficult for me to go for a whole week. I had to do some changes and ask for some favours, but I didn’t want to miss the Euro Beach Soccer League.”, she explained.
Once in Nazaré, the team had to continue to be careful with their budget, making sure they did not overspend. “We cooked our own breakfast and lunch, and bought groceries from the supermarket… With Maikel, it is very difficult to overspend”, they joke.
Luck was not on their side when it came to their results in the matches, but that does not mean they did not enjoy every single second of the experience, while competing at the highest level in this year’s Women’s EBSL also offered invaluable experience to the players and teams.
“It was absolutely worth all the effort. It is so nice to play here and to be a part of this event”, they assured.
In this same sense, one of the most experienced players in the team, goalkeeper Jessica Overtoom, highlighted how the team had significantly improved after this period. “Training hard made us grow and learn a lot, in different aspects of the games, and also having been able to compete here made us stronger.”, she stated.
With their attitude, their grit, and their passion, there is no doubt this team will keep growing, aiming for yet higher goals in the seasons to come.