Postcard from the Netherlands
I’m currently in Holland on a mini football tour with my sons Sunday team. So, as a break from standard Rams commentary, here’s a little insight into how the Dutch roll in terms of their local football.
Last night (Tuesday) we played a team called Spijkenisse. This was a small town/suburb on the outskirts of Rotterdam and spitting distance from Den Haag. If I say we arrived at their ‘complex’ you get the idea of the sort of place it was.
From what I could make out, there were at least 6 pitches of various sizes (3 3G and 3 grass) which was separated from the stadium by a fantastic club house/bar and various changing rooms etc. As this was an amateur set up, the stadium was obviously limited and had just one main stand which ran down one side of the pitch. However any English league 1, 2 and maybe some Championship would have killed for a training centre like this.
A local told me they had 69 teams of which 54 were youth teams. All teams up to u14 train twice a week, u14 and up trained 3 times a week.
One thing that’s strikes me about European football is that all the junior teams are part of an overall club with a senior amateur or semi pro mens team, and a base i.e a ground, a clubhouse etc. You get quite a bit of that in Notts but literally nothing in Derby (this culture is one of the main reasons i enjoy my boy playing in Notts).
Our actual game was an U-11 11 a-side game. Half our team play 11 a side on Saturdays but to the rest 11 a side was new. In fairness the Dutch coach told us afterwards, his team was 2x 7 a side teams which were being amalgamated to go 11 a side next season. Less positively for him he said he had to axe 3 boys who had been there since they were 5 as his squad was now too big.
In terms of the game itself it was pretty much as you would expect. The Dutch team were technically superb and played everything to feet. The amount of training they’ve done since an early age was clearly reflected in the overall composure on the ball and the movement was excellent. Physically they weren’t so great and it made a really interesting game. They didn’t really have one player you would say was immense but equally everybody was well above your average Sunday morning Uk player.
The last English team they played, they beat 8-1, so their manager suggested playing 3x 20 minute periods, I guess to gauge his squad rotation based on how good we were. With the last 20 minutes to play we were 3-1 up. However with our team tiring badly after a day on the water park and 40 minutes chasing the ball they came back strong and, helped by an outrageous penalty call at 2-3 which their coach apologised for, won 4-3.
Food and drinks were laid on for the boys afterwards whilst we had a few beers and it rounded off a great night and a fantastic insight into how they do things in Holland.