NETHERLANDS LADIES ARE EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS
The Orange Ladies have become European champions for the ninth time, in the Wagener Stadium on Saturday night. Thanks to goals from Carlien Dirkse van den Heuvel, Kelly Jonker and Ireen van den Assem, the Netherlands won the final final 3-0 against Belgium. It is the first gold medal for the Dutch since the 2014 World Cup in The Hague. In addition, it is the first trophy under the leadership of Alyson Annan.
The smile of the coach after Kelly Jonker’s goal in the 48th minute betrayed her thoughts. A 2-0 lead gave her team only a little more breathing space. It wasn’t until Ireen van den Assem sent the Belgian keeper, Aisling D’Hooghe, the wrong way in the last minute from the P spot, that party was complete. Annan fell into the arms of assistant Albert Kees-Manenschijn and manager Femke Kooijman in jubilation.
Two days ago the golden generation was swept out
A year ago, Annan had much to endure during the Olympic Games. Her blackout overshadowed the great game that put her team in the final against Great Britain. On
that night lady luck did not shine for the girls in orange. After the Olympics Alyson had some big decisions to make. Almost half of the wider squad either retired or was moved aside for the next wave of impressive youth.
Two days ago the golden generation of Dutch hockey was brought out and thanked by
the sell out crowd during the half time interval against England. Annan just got a glimpse of it as she returned to the field after the half time break. The massive applause by which the hockey icon Maartje Paumen was thanked by the public was impressive.
She was not the only old international who was swept out. Also, Naomi van As, Ellen Hoog, Joyce Sombroek, Willemijn Bos, Frédérique Derkx, Michelle van der Pols and Kim Lammers received a great farewell in a very loud Wagener Stadium.
Tough Times ahead for Annan
Looking ahead to the next international cycle, for Annan, just became a lot harder, as for the first time she was missing a large part of the golden generation.
But Annan also had her own problems with the Orange ladies. First of all, during the Olympic Games, the experienced girls recieved a heavy England blow for the second time in two years. The rest had little to no experience as internationals. Annan’s last year, Pien Sanders, Frédérique Matla and Josine Koning, debuted.
In addition, she gave full confidence to Ireen van den Assem and Malou Pheninckx, who in the past were too light for Orange. In addition, Annan stood in favor of Caia van Maasakker after she was heavily criticised.
Annan started working on herself
Annan also looked critically at himself. After the Olympic Games, she concluded that she should have been in a fitter state of mind. She started working on herself. She dropped kilos and was extremely relaxed last week. During tournaments like this, she is at work less often than before and she has more time for the girls.
The new Orange was master in the final
All of this has resulted in a new look Dutch squad. An orange that came into trouble in the final against Belgium. The Netherlands certainly did not sparkle like in the golden age. Where the tension in the Wagener Stadium reached a boiling point during the semi-final thriller against England, the crowd had no idea if Orange would take the lead. For this reason, Belgium simply offered little resistance. As in sports more often, this tournament was the famous saying: the semifinal was the final.
It is too far to say after one major prize that this group of international is the new golden generation. But it does not matter that in a year or ten a part of the current team gets as impressive a farewell as all those stopped internationals two days ago.
Netherlands – Belgium 3-0 (1-0)
’12 Carlien Dirkse van den Heuvel 1-0
’48 Kelly Jonker 2-0
’60 Ireen van den Assem 3-0