Much has been written about the turbulent start of Huizen this season . However restless the first weeks of the competition were, the fact is that Donald Drost’s team is now second in the Promotion Division. With two games to go, the play-offs suddenly beckon.
Myrthe van Kesteren (27) is one of the veterans in the team full of young talents. The Amsterdam player played, among other things, at the highest level in the Spanish league and for many years for the big league club Bloemendaal.
Despite her experience, the tension is rising for the last weeks of competition. “Making the playoffs is really realistic now. We’re so close. Last year it just didn’t work out (Huizen finished fourth, ed.). That’s why it’s extra cool if we do qualify this year.’
According to the midfielder, there are more reasons why the play-offs are a boost for Huizen. The club has been in financial difficulties in recent months. As Ladies 1 we felt that the eyes were focused extra on us because of it. We could only react to that sportively. We did.’
Incubator for talent
Apart from the current financial situation, Huizen does not have a top sports budget. Sponsorship is arranged by the players themselves. Nevertheless, the club appears to be attractive to talents from the region. On the only 17-year-old Noor Knoop, for example (Orange U18). And to Sam Luttmer, who plays for the Dutch Juniors. Midfielder Noa van Leer also played for the Dutch youth teams.
Van Kesteren: ‘If we make it to the play-offs, we will give a calling card. Our selection is now quite narrow, so reinforcements are welcome. Think of other strong youth players from the region or players who are just not good enough for the big league. In any case, this year we have shown that we are further ahead than our neighbors from Laren. Reaching the play-offs makes us even more attractive as a club from a sporting point of view.’
Before that happens, Huizen has to collect points. The promotion class teams are more evenly matched than ever before. Orange-Red is already champion. Below that, four teams compete for the two playoff spots. Huizen has 35 points, Groningen and Push each 34 and HIC 33. Huizen first hits HIC and then Groningen. A challenging program.
Van Kesteren: ‘ Donald doesn’t let us talk about the ranking or the play-offs . If we do, he will immediately cut us off. He continues to focus towards the group on having fun. With some players he does talk individually about where we are in the ranking. He also puts more pressure on one than the other. That’s how he says it clearly when he thinks I can do better. But for the most part he lets them play freely.’
Kessie jumps when she talks about their coach. “Thanks to him, I found the fun again. The offensive game we play under Donald suits us very well. Along the line Donald sometimes yells quite a bit, but in fact he is a big cuddly bear. During the winter break, he went out to dinner with each player separately to discuss their own goals and ambitions. Two weeks ago against HBS he suddenly appeared in a tailored suit. He found us uninspired and hoped to stir up the energy. Those kinds of things make me very happy on the field. And look where we are now.’
Van Kesteren is therefore particularly looking forward to the coming pots of the season. ‘Last time we lost to both HIC and Groningen. That was right then, but we’ve come a long way now, both as a team and individually. Take Norwegian. You would think you would blow her away, but she is just banging on the field for seventy minutes. And what about Sam? She’s only nineteen, but she plays with so much power . Moreover, her penalty corner is a weapon. She has grown considerably in that in recent months.’
Van Kesteren’s nerves are now increasing. ‘I’m very superstitious. My socks are about to fall apart and my bracelets are almost worn out. But I don’t care. They have to go on and on. As a team we really live towards the last games. It’s just finals. It also lives within the club. More and more spectators line the line. Our parents also form a close and loyal support group. They are almost always there. We even have a group app with the parents. I would love it so much for everyone if we crowned that with the play-offs.’
Whatever the outcome, the foundation for next season has already been laid. Van Kesteren: ‘Donald and our assistant Jesper de Korte will stay, just like almost all players. Only Amber Folmer stops. Someone like Sam has already been called by all major league clubs, but she too will stay for at least another year. It shows how much fun we are having. Also off the field. On Friday we were still at a festival together. But on Sunday we just stand there and we want nothing more than to play our best game. If we continue that for a few more games, the season could end surprisingly.’