Why is Dutch football woman mainly white? ‘Fear of exclusion plays a role’

The Netherlands group is predominantly white.Environmental Protection Agency’s photo

You may not notice it right away, but after a few matches in the European Football Championship in England, it is striking: almost all the teams are very white, especially compared to the men’s teams from the same countries.

The same goes for Orange. In the Dutch men’s team, nearly half of the selections are of colours. There are currently only three players of color among women: Lyneth Berenstein, Esme Progts, and reserve goalkeeper Jacintha Weimar. Neither Moroccan nor Dutch-Turkish made it to the top of the women’s team.

In England’s selection of Sarina Wegman, there were three out of 23 players of color, and in Gareth Southgate’s last men’s game, there were ten. “You actually see a white team,” says former international Eniola Aluko. Planetfootball.com. “I don’t know how to say that.”

France's most diverse selection.  AFP photo

France’s most diverse selection.AFP photo

The only real exception to this European Championship is France, where the Netherlands will play in the quarter-finals on Saturday. In that country, both men and women play a lot of soccer players with immigrant backgrounds.

Not surprisingly, the proportion is lower in many countries. 75 percent of young people — girls and boys — who do not have immigrant backgrounds are members of a sports club, according to figures from the Molier Institute for 2020. For boys with non-Western immigrant backgrounds, that percentage is 10 percent lower: 65 percent. For girls it is lower: only 40 percent.

wrong conclusions

Wrong conclusions are often drawn from these numbers, says Katherine van den Bogert, associate professor of sports and society at Utrecht University. Not allowing girls to play sports, for example, because of their parents or their religion.

For her PhD research, van den Bogert spoke with dozens of girls who don’t appear in those official figures. For two years she visited the squares, mainly in Schilderswijk in The Hague, where they played football. They all want to be the next Berenstein or Medema. And playing in Barcelona, ​​this is really my favorite club.

The cultural anthropologist spoke primarily to girls of Dutch Moroccan descent and quickly learned that religion is not an obstacle to playing sports and playing football. She has seen that many girls are afraid to go to the club. “Anyway, it’s still not clear for many girls that they play football,” she says. “But the threshold is higher for these girls.”

Clubs are often not nearby and not all families can bring and collect them. It can be difficult financially at times. Not all leagues have girls’ teams and getting involved in a boys’ team can be a bump. In addition, clubs are usually men’s strongholds: the administrators and coaches are men, often white.

went out

“These are all reasons why they don’t register with a club or don’t feel at home there,” explains Van den Bogert. Sometimes there is discrimination or racism, but they are often also afraid of being excluded.

“This fear is not unjustified,” says the researcher. As a girl, you are often seen as the odd girl out. Do not feel comfortable. That’s why they often feel like: don’t care about football.

In France, it is better to bring talents from the outskirts of big cities to the clubs first, after which they move to the football academies of the French Federation. For example, left winger Kadidiatou Diani, like Kylian Mbappé, received her training at the Academy in Clairefontaine, outside Paris.

“I didn’t even know there was a French women’s team,” said the current Paris Saint-Germain player. Lou Parisian. I discovered it only in the center. From that moment on, I knew I could make this my business and one day join this team.

The KNVB is not active in the search for talent, but the federation is trying to stimulate club football. For example, through the annual school football tournament, which brought international player Shanice van der Sanden into contact with football. There is also the Ons Voetbal is Van Everyone project, which aims to ensure that clubs become more inclusive: with more diverse board members and coaches, lowering barriers for children with immigrant backgrounds.

The transition to Orange is already happening: Shanice van der Sanden, Lineth Beerensteyn and Esmee Brutts are examples. “No one here really looks at what color you are,” says the latter. “And I don’t notice that either.”

Choose Morocco

There are more colors to be seen in national youth teams. But girls also drop out, for example because they chose to go out for Morocco. Where, for example, Hakim Ziyech and Nassir Mazraoui chose to play for Morocco at a later age, the Moroccan women’s under-17 team already includes four girls who grew up in the Netherlands.

Among them is Samia El-Masnaoui, who previously played for Dutch teams. Dania Merabti (Excelsior), Sofia Bolgalog (FC Eindhoven) and Janna Sharif (Addo Lahague) are already in this team.

Sheriff appeared in a video three years ago, in which she visited Lieki Martens. “My dream is to play for the Dutch national team like Lieke Martins.” She was selected for the Netherlands under 16, but she was injured. It wasn’t long before it was caught in Morocco.

The federation of this country is very active and has an advantage: in October, the under-17 team will participate in the World Cup in India. Holland was unable to qualify for this.

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Amber Webster

 "Freelance zombie fanatic. Devoted web advocate. Analyst. Writer. Coffee fanatic. Travelaholic. Proud food aficionado."

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