These are dark times for the ladies of Amsterdam. After a scoreless first weekend, coach Thomas Immink’s team was treated to a 9-0 defeat by Den Bosch in the first match on Sunday. The second matchday ended with the first points of the season after a close victory over newly promoted Ring Pass Delft (2-1). The poor results come as no surprise. “We debated whether we should withdraw.”
After the final whistle of the match against Ring Pass Delft, Immink puts his arm around Gabrielle Mosch’s shoulder. The captain and world champion in the Dutch team puts a small smile on her face. ‘It must have come from very far away for us. We accept that and then this win is of course very sweet,’ says Immink afterwards in the catacombs of Sports Hall De Beuk in Purmerend.
The coach has also been given the sweet of victory. Immink did not face an easy task. It was quite a job to form a room selection. With nine field internationals, players at the Dutch Juniors, players who did not want to play indoor hockey, holidays and injuries, the pond to fish for was very small.
In addition, the Dutch selection for the Hockey 5s World Cup was also announced just before Christmas. ‘Otherwise Noor de Baat would have played in the hall and Floor de Haan and Gabrielle Mosch would have worked many more hall hours. Then the group immediately looks very different,’ says Immink.
‘It also has to do with the fact that an end has been drawn to a European Championship Hall’, Immink continues, ‘Players have really made different choices, I am one hundred percent sure of that. Now that’s the way it is and you have to deal with it.’
Goalkeeper Kiki Brink (SCHC) and Juul Veltman (Xenios) joined Amsterdam from outside. ‘We were told no a number of times by outside players. They had already committed to another team before the indoor season.’
The pool is so thin that Amsterdam is seriously considering withdrawing the team from the Hoofdklasse Hall at the start of the indoor season. “We talked about it for a long time with the top hockey committee,” says Immink.
Ultimately, the club chooses to participate in the Hoofdklasse Hall. ‘There is a chance you will be relegated, but because you are playing you will only go down one league level instead of several levels if we had withdrawn. But then you know that we will be cannon fodder a number of times.’
Amsterdam started the indoor competition with a 6-1 and 9-1 defeat against Victoria and Kampong respectively. On Sunday in Purmerend, Den Bosch is too strong 9-0.
‘I believe Den Bosch had ten field players between the bars. That is a different caliber than us with four from Ladies 1, two A’s, two girls who normally do not play for our club and one from Ladies 2,” says Immink, who does make a comment: “If we play the same way against Den Bosch If we had played like we did against Ring Pass, we would still have lost, but we would have played a better game. I thought we were a bunch of tame sheep. We allowed ourselves to be led to the slaughter.’
Things are going difficult against Ring Pass, which, like Amsterdam, had zero points after three matches. The team from Delft takes the lead after seven minutes. Despite a yellow card from Floor de Haan, Ring Pass did not increase the margin. Five minutes before the end, Alessia Norbiato equalized and four minutes later Noa Muller gave Amsterdam the first three points of the season.
‘The first thing I said to the girls is that I am proud. Proud of the fighting spirit. That we want and can survive. We feel pressure, but we have to stay true to ourselves. Knowing what steps we need to take to continue to improve over the next three weekends. Learning to understand each other better and hopefully being able to play a little more indoor hockey than we have now.
Immink: ‘Indoor hockey consists of discipline, keeping agreements, carrying out assignments, trying to hone patterns. But yes, if you train with three or four players every time, there is little to refine and organize together. Today we beat Ring Pass because we have four players from Ladies 1 on the field. Individually, they make a difference. That’s why we win that match. Not because we played indoor hockey.’
The victory over Ring Pass means that Amsterdam is now equal on points with Kampong. The goal difference is considerably worse than that of the Utrecht formation. ‘Fourth place is our dream spot, because then we don’t have to play play-outs and we don’t get in the way with NK’s youth.’
Immink expects Amsterdam to become stronger in the coming weeks. ‘In the first round, only Alessia and Gabrielle van Dames were on the field. Today there were four. That saves a sip on a drink. Stella van Gils will be there next week and perhaps later Fiona Morgenstern when she has recovered from an injury. And who knows, maybe not everyone will join the Dutch field team.’
In any case, Immink is combative and does not give up easily. ‘You don’t have to run away from a team that may look like some kind of bankrupt company to the outside world. I think you should pick up the gauntlet and make the best of it. Let me put it this way: I’m not going to give up. I will only give up or we will only give up when it is actually done. It’s a hell of a job , but those sports stories are also the sweetest.’