Breaking barriers: Dutch to trial woman in men’s senior team

August 5 – Dutch football is to pilot a scheme allowing a woman to play competitively in a men’s team, the KNVB has announced. 

Ellen Fokkema, 19, is the first player to participate in the pilot and will play for VV Foarut’s first team at amateur level in the ninth tier of the football pyramid in the Netherlands. The KNVB says it wants to encourage a greater women’s participation in the men’s game in future.

“Every year there is a request from an association to let a woman play football in their first men’s team,” said KNVB director of football development Art Langeler. “In my opinion it is special that girls at all levels can play mixed football, but as soon as boys move on from under-19 to Category A of the men, they have to play football without the woman in their team.

“The KNVB stands for diversity and equality. We believe that there should be room for everyone in every way.”

In the Netherlands, girls and young women can play category A mixed football up to U-19 level, but thereafter have to play with Category B teams. The Dutch FA will monitor the progress of the pilot and if successful consider modifying the rules permanently.

“I asked the club if something was possible and together we submitted the request to the KNVB,” explained Fokkema (pictured). “My teammates also reacted enthusiastically that I can stay with them. I can’t say how it will go, but I am very happy anyway that I can participate in this pilot.”

The Netherlands first recognised women’s football in 1971. Recently, the women’s game took flight among Oranje fans after the Dutch won the women’s European Championship on home soil in 2017.

Mixed football was introduced in 1986 in the country.

Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1600417750labto1600417750ofdlr1600417750owedi1600417750sni@o1600417750fni1600417750