Netherlands: GHBS to Maastricht: 'Feels like the other side of the world'

She lifted the gigantic silver cup into the air a year ago with ten of her current teammates. Jolijn Heijen is the captain of GHBS and is in the semifinals of the Silver Cup, which is so popular in Groningen. That hurdle must also be won, because the defending champion only wants one thing: to take the trophy home again. 

But for that, the team has to make a one-way trip of at least 330 kilometers. GHBS has been drawn against – you won’t believe it – Maastricht. There is practically no club further away in the Netherlands than that. In perspective: with the kilometers the team makes on Friday, you also travel directly from Groningen to Copenhagen. Indeed, the capital of Denmark.

‘When the draw was drawn two weeks ago, we all only hoped for one thing…’, captain Jolijn Heijen begins. ‘As long as it doesn’t become Maastricht. And if it is, please leave it at home.’ That was requesting the gods, of course. Because GHBS can prepare for a visit to South Limburg. 

Jolijn Heijen during last season’s Silver Cup final in and against Venlo. Photo: William Vernes

And it’s not that simple. Because a lot has to happen for such a trip through the Netherlands. For example, a bus with a driver had to be arranged, because the group did not like driving a car for four hours first and then playing a match. But things also had to be done at work: not everyone could get time off for a cup pot. ‘I work as a nurse myself, but we have other teammates who work in care or education. They couldn’t get the Friday afternoon off,” says the captain. ‘The bus will pass by my work on Friday.’

No time for a warm-up in Maastricht

The bus with driver is filled with the public and departs from the metropolis of the North at 3.30 pm. The fast mathematician knows that the 8.30 p.m. game could easily be jeopardized by Friday afternoon traffic. ‘We do part of the preparation in the bus. We probably don’t have time for a warm-up in Maastricht. We will be walking up and down a lot along the way. Oh well, that shouldn’t be a problem. We have already experienced that at IJsseloever. Then we won too.’

A bus journey of at least four hours. What the hell are they going to do all this time? ‘We come from Groningen, for us it is normal to cover long distances. An hour or two is not unusual for us.’ But the trip to Maastricht is double what they are used to. Still, the captain is not afraid of boredom: ‘We play a number of fixed songs on Spotify. That is part of our cup ritual. I can’t tell you which one, because that’s also part of that superstition. We also watch videos from the previous cup final. To get back into that feeling completely.’

‘The cup virus is really contagious’

Because the previous cup final was a prey for GHBS. Then Delta Venlo (in Venlo) was defeated after shoot-outs. In the lion’s den, after a one-way journey of more than three hours. So many similarities with Friday night’s meeting. “I enjoyed that moment so much. It’s very alive. It was such a cool adventure last year. This year we want to make it just as successful. The young, new girls in our team were not there, but they already feel that way. The goblet virus is really contagious.’

Jolijn Heijen with the silver cup during last season’s Silver Cup final in and against Venlo. Photo: William Vernes

‘Feels like the other side of the world’

She even got a nickname from the cup final. ‘The press called me a cool frog. My teammates thought that was very funny. Well, that’s what they call me. If we can only make it to the final. That will be against Westerpark or Apeliotes. In any case, that is less far than Maastricht.’

‘We thought for a while whether we could make a weekend of it,’ says Heijen. But those plans soon fell apart. Because in addition to the Silver Cup, the group is also in the race for a play-off spot for the Overgangsklasse. On Sunday, the team will meet Houten, the leader of the First Division A. That game must be won to keep an eye on a possible promotion. ‘Drinking a lot of beer on the way back is therefore not an option for us.’

Heijen hopes to write history. No team has ever won a cup tournament twice in a row. After Deventer (away, 2-3), Hoorn (away, 1-3), Fletiomare (home, 4-2) and IJssel (home, 3-0), the Limburg capital is the next hurdle. ‘I must admit that I’ve never been to Maastricht. It also really feels like the other side of the world. It’s an international match.’

GHBS during last season’s Silver Cup final in and against Venlo. Photo: William Vernes


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