‘Come on, ladies. Make us proud. Show the entire country what you are capable of!’, I wrote three weeks ago on my blog. I pressed the ‘publish’ button, and said a little prayer to myself. Please, let it work out this time. Let it not be one more ‘so-close-but-not-yet’ tournament. What happened from that point on, I could’ve never even dared to dream.
The scenes I have witnessed these past weeks in Enschede and Utrecht are beyond all my expectations. Thousands of people at the Fanzones, sold out stadiums, and an ‘orange madness’ that spread across the country like an oil stain. Dutch people are true bandwagon supporters (I’m allowed to say this – I’m one of them), so the fact that ‘our’ ladies have made it to the final could not have come at a better time. Suddenly, everyone is talking about ‘Neymartens‘, Jackie Groenen’s splicing passes and the turbo engine more commonly known as Shanice van de Sanden.
Tonight, the Orange Lionesses will play the WEURO final in a sold out Grolsch Veste. I had to read that sentence three times, before I fully fathom that everything in it is, in fact, actually happening. Holland has fallen in love with the national women’s soccer team, the thing that ‘we’ all had hoped for so dearly before the start of the tournament. Whatever happens, tonight will be an historic one, both in the Netherlands and in the rest of Europe.
And me? I will be standing on the pitch myself. ‘If Belgium makes it to the final, we’ll cancel our friendly game!’, a few of my teammates said two weeks ago. For the Netherlands, that statement turned out not to count. I had a ticket, and missing this legendary evening was out of the question for me. Until I realised something.
‘Lots of kids out there say, ‘I want to be on the national team.’ Then there are kids who say, ‘I’m willing to do whatever it takes to be on the national team.’ – Chris Petrucelli, former coach of the U.S.W.N.T. U21s
The past 1361 days, my life has been focused around one goal: making the 2019 World Cup. No, I’ve not always made the right decisions on the road to that goal. Sometimes I’ve even done counterproductive things. But at the moment the Dutch women kick off against Denmark, there’s only one thing that counts for me: that 664 days after that, the World Cup starts.
Telling everyone on the internet who will listen that you want to make the national team is one thing. Doing everything, every single thing, to reach that goal, is another. I’ve summed them all up in my head, the excuses that I had for myself to justify going to the final in Enschede tonight. In the mean time, I already knew what I really was supposed to do.
Dear, dear Lionesses. What you have done for Dutch women’s soccer these past few weeks is indescribable. And oh, how I would have loved to be there tonight, in the orange Grolsch Veste. But I can’t. I’ll be on the pitch, to make sure that even today, on this historic August 6th, 2017, I do everything I can to be a part of your team as soon as possible. So that if I fail, I can at least look in the mirror without regrets. You’ve already made all of us so proud. Now it’s time to get that icing on the orange cake. I wish you all the best. Go kick some ass.
Thanks for reading, talk soon! 🙂