A majority of the big league clubs would like the trial with women’s matches at prime time – Sunday afternoon at 2:45 p.m. – to continue after the winter break. However, most clubs think it is still too early to conclude whether it is a success or not. Only SCHC is not in favour of extending the experiment after the winter break.
Last summer, the big league clubs supported the idea of internationals Maria Verschoor and Josine Koning to no longer only give the starting time of 2:45 PM on Sunday afternoon to men’s teams. Until the beginning of this season, women’s matches in the Major League started on Sunday afternoons as standard at 12:45 p.m. and men’s matches started at 2:45 p.m.
Since last season, streaming service Viaplay has been broadcasting all matches live, meaning that the big league matches are also played on Saturdays. In addition, showtimes were occasionally adjusted due to live television broadcasts. Six months ago, the experiment was added with the varying starting times on Sundays. Whether that trial will be continued after the winter break has yet to be decided.
In any case, a tour of hockey.nl shows that a majority of the big league clubs also want to give the experiment a chance after the winter break. Clubs that have cautiously identified positive effects are Den Bosch, Amsterdam, Tilburg, Pinoké and HGC.
In practice, the experiences with regard to changing times have so far been positive. Den Bosch chairman Rob Almering
Den Bosch chairman Rob Almering: ‘As a club we are always open to changes that both contribute to further professionalization and better connect to the current social context. In practice, the experiences with regard to changing times have so far been positive.’
Tilburg chairman Rob Kluyt: ‘Our impression is that the experiment has not led to fewer spectators, but rather to more. In short: keep going.’
Pinoké chairman Seerp Gratama: ‘We are mainly positive about this pilot, although we have also seen that it still needs some getting used to. Spectators are often used to the original order and times.’
Only effective at Super Sundays
However, Amsterdam, Verschoor’s club, has noticed that reversing the starting times mainly makes sense on a Super Sunday, says chairman Marc Staal. ‘And we had little of that in the first half of the season, due to the spread of the matches over the entire weekend. It is therefore still too early for definitive conclusions.’
Top hockey chairman Mark van Loon of HGC shares this opinion: ‘If the women start at 2.45 pm and the men at 12.45 pm, we will see commotion at the club earlier. So that’s nice. But if the women play at 2.45 pm and the men play away or not, we see no effect. In my opinion it only makes sense for a double.’
Hurley also understands the choice to divide the starting times for men and women fairly. The club does notice that it still takes some getting used to for visitors, because they are still used to fixed times on Sundays. Chairman Jan Chris de Nooijer: ‘It is fine for Hurley as a club to alternate the times. We see no clear deviations in visitors who come especially for these competitions nor differences in bar turnover. Apart from a few practical matters, it is also acceptable for the teams.’
SCHC is not in favor
Bloemendaal, Oranje-Rood and Schaerweijde say that they think it is still too early to form an opinion. Rotterdam, where Men’s 1 plays for the national title and Women’s 1 fights against relegation, calls itself neither a supporter nor an opponent through chairman Jac Bressers. Klein Switzerland and HDM did not respond in time to our question about their position.
SCHC is the only club that expresses its opposition to extending the trial. Chairman Michiel Verveld: ‘We supported the idea for the pilot and nice initiatives have emerged within our club. For example, after one of the first women’s matches, Men 1 was frying hamburgers for the public at 2.45 pm. However, we also have doubts about changing the playing times. Players and supporters appear to be creatures of habit and like fixed times. For many, a fixed match moment on Sunday is better than the substitutions. Also because the schedule of the big league is already regularly spread over the weekend.’ When asked whether SCHC wants to go back to the old times, he answers: ‘Back to fixed times.’
Finally, there are varying internal voices at Kampong, says chairman Sandra van Loon: ‘The staff of Ladies 1 does not think it is a success, because it is already difficult to plan due to the different competition days. The coach of Men 1 [Tim Oudenaller] thinks it’s fine. The managers find it a lot to manage every week, but that also depends on the spread of the matches over the entire weekend. Finally: it is always quite busy in Kampong. Half of the approximately 75 senior teams play at home, so there is always support for the first teams, no matter what time.”