‘Referee, for the love of God, put an end to this!’ I shout from the stands of the home team’s facilities, as the game between the women’s sides of PSV and Ajax enters the 94th minute. ‘Oh ref, release us from this suffering!’ the man behind me adds. ‘Grandpa,’ a little girl two seats back starts ‘dad won’t let me have any more candy!’. Just an indication of how interested even she was in the game. Well. I can be extremely concise about it: PSV – Ajax was a horrible game. But crazy as it may sound, that was amazing news for women’s soccer.
The circumstances weren’t exactly helping either. The temperature, even at half past 7 in the evening, was still above 30°C (86°F), and the tiny waterdrops from the sprinklers that the wind blew onto the stands were not at all unwelcome. Besides that, the Amsterdam side had won the league a week earlier, and the Eindhoven team wasn’t in the race for anything anymore, and with the Dutch cup final between the same two squads scheduled a week later, both of them were giving some usual starters a rest.
‘Put that turbo on!’
Thanks to a combination of not training anymore on Friday and a dad who is more than willing to spend his free evenings driving to Eindhoven or Amsterdam and back, I got to see quite a few Eredivisie games this season. And, with the exception of last week, they almost never disappointed. There were some true thrillers, spectacular goals, and things you could’ve never predicted, like the moment when Toni Payne of Ajax stunned thousands of supporters when she busted out a sprint that would probably have done well at the Olympics. ‘Come on girl, put that turbo on!’
The Eredivisie for women keeps on growing, and will get a ninth squad next season in Excelsior/Barendrecht. Sure, it’s not always rainbows and sunshine yet, but I’m sure that the players at the Dutch highest level have done great things in promoting women’s soccer this year. And with the European Championships in Holland around the corner, their timing couldn’t have been better.
PSV – Ajax was a game to forget as quickly as possible. But at the same time, this says a lot about all the other games this season. I don’t have any official numbers to base my statement on yet, but I’ve seen stands considerably fuller than a season ago. Piece by piece, women’s soccer is taking steps in the right direction, a development that enthusiasts of the sport can be nothing but proud of.
A ‘Cruijffian’ epiphany
Okay, back to the PSV game. When the referee blew his whistle after a little more than 90 minutes and a 0-2 score for Ajax on the board, I was glad we finally got to go home. Or, as my dad put it: ‘That’s an hour and a half of your life that you’re never getting back…’ But in true ‘Cruijffian’ fashion, I did realise something at that exact moment. Was this game so bad… Or were the other ones so good?
Thanks for reading, talk soon! 🙂
P.S.: The author would like to extend a warm ‘thank you’ to Thomas Bakker for the photo.