With the recruitment of British international and Olympic champion Lily Owsley (26) , hdm – after having already captured the American Ashley Hoffman and the British hockey players Flora Peel and Erica Sanders in recent seasons – is once again bringing in a player from abroad. However, that is not at the expense of their own youth, says Mariette Verstappen, committee member Tophockey Dames at hdm.
To start, explain why you attracted Lily Owsley.
Verstappen: ‘Lily was a great opportunity for us. We came into contact with her through our player Flora Peel, a good friend of hers. She had indicated that she would like to play in the Dutch league. Last season we were already talking to Lily, but then the Olympics were postponed by a year and she indicated that she would stay in England. We are happy that we have now managed to sign her for next season. She is one of the best players in the England team. She is attackingly strong, has a lot of experience and an enormous drive. Moreover, she has a click with the group; she’s already met the girls. ‘
In recent years, several talents have left hdm and made the step to the top three . With the arrival of Owsley, are you trying to ensure that the current crop of talents – including Orange potentials Tessa Clasener, Margot van Hecking Colebrander and Jong Oranje player Imme van Es – stay with HDM longer?
‘Exactly. With the arrival of Lily, we are strengthening the selection and we hope to structurally connect with the top four. In this way we hope to further train our talents and retain them for longer. This not only applies to the girls who are already playing in Ladies 1, but also to the talents who are coming. We want to show them that you don’t have to go to another club to play play-offs. ‘
Does the arrival of Owsley not also benefit their own youth?
‘No. Our goal is that every year two or three players from their own youth move on to Ladies 1. That was already the case and it will remain so. Our own youth is an important cornerstone of HDM, where we continue to invest time and energy. So we are certainly not going to buy a whole team together. But we do invest in targeted reinforcements. At Heren 1, we brought in a number of important players with Boris Burkhardt, Wiegert Schut (both Amsterdam) and Jasper Siebert (Cartouche) last year with the aim of promoting back to the big league as soon as possible. If that succeeds, the result is that talents from our youth will not have to transfer to another club in a few years. We also apply the same policy to women. ‘
With Ashley Hoffman, Flora Peel and Erica Sanders, the counter this season is three foreign players. If their presence and next season that of Owsley is not at the expense of their own youth, who will it be at the expense of? After all, they take four places in the match selection.
‘First of all, we are still talking with those three players about a contract for next year. The team has indicated that they prefer to stay together as much as possible, because they are now third and the atmosphere is good. So we intend to continue with them. But even with them, the selection now consists of seventy percent players from their own youth and thirty percent players from outside. We want to keep that relationship that way. In that respect, we must therefore continue to select from that group of thirty percent.
What do you think of the criticism that your own youth is not your own youth, but has been plucked away from other clubs?
‘Of the seventy percent that I mean with their own youth, three players have currently started with our minis. They are Eva ‘t Hoog, Pien van der Heide and Willemijn Muntinga. Indeed, others later switched to us. Some did this at an early age because they wanted to develop further and therefore took the initiative themselves. There are also players who at the age of fourteen already played in Ladies 1 of Ring Pass, for example, had the ambition to play the big league and therefore came to us in the A’s. But the clubs where they started are all clubs that do not play big league themselves. I think that is an essential difference. ‘