Emma Coolen - Nederlands Elftal

Quitting school: one final push towards making the Dutch national team

If there’s one thing I’ve learned on my ‘football journey’ over these past few years, it’s that you can never predict how life is going to go. As you might have read on my blog a while ago, things haven’t been going great on my attempt to make it to the Dutch national team. Injuries, something a FOX Sports commentator could have described as a ‘motivational crisis’, and leaving and unexpectedly quick returning to VC Moldavo. Oh, and in the meantime, I also tried to stay on track in my second year of college, you know, on the side… As you can probably guess, not exactly the ingredients for a recipe to success.


A few weeks ago, I wrote the following in an email: ‘I really want to start my internship [in september], but there’s one thing I know for sure: if I start a 40-hours-a-week internship, I might as well toss my dreams of becoming a pro player and making the Dutch national team in the trash straight away.’ At the time of writing it, I made my statement a little bit more dramatic just to get my point across, but in the days that followed, I couldn’t stop thinking about that single sentence. Being back in college is amazing, and I’m thoroughly convinced that I’ve found the perfect school this time, but am I fooling myself? Have I chosen the safe option, thereby (sub)consciously blocking the path to reaching my football dreams?

Safety net

Sometimes my brother and I discuss the concept of building yourself a ‘safety net’. College students have developed this skill to new heights. ‘Yeah, that test today, I didn’t study at all!’ So that when you get an F, at least you’ll be able to fall back on ‘Well, I didn’t put any effort in anyway…’, keeping your image and ego completely intact.

The past year and a half, I’ve had a lot of fun in college, a place I had honestly given up on ever ending up. But that did lead me to being further and further removed from my original goal: making the Dutch national team. That’s why, in the past week, I’ve made a decision. It’s time to go all in, one final time.

In May of 2018, as soon as I’ve finished my second year of college, I will be taking a break from school for at least one year, to free some time for myself to once again put all my focus on football. Training extra, reading books, visiting matches… One final push.

The odds of me making it seems to be closer to zero than ever before, but I have to give it a shot. So that twenty years from today, I won’t be able to say: ‘Well, I didn’t make the national team… But that’s because I was in college the whole time.’ It’s time to risk both my image and my ego, and gamble on chasing my dream with everything I have. Hoping for the best. But in any way, and that’s the single most important thing to me: with no excuses in twenty years.

Thanks for reading, talk soon! 🙂