With the name John de Bever most people nowadays think of a singer. For a long time no longer the indoor footballer who was proclaimed the best in the world in 1997. At the time, the Netherlands really did have something to offer in that area.
In a year and a half‘s time, a full Ziggo Dome should be the first result of the catching up that the Dutch national team started under the leadership of national coach Max Tjaden. “We hope that we can unleash something that the women have also succeeded in doing
Have other countries become so good, or has the Netherlands fallen so low in recent years?
“The game has changed enormously”, Tjaden knows, practically all his football life has been active in the world. “But we have missed a battle. We haven’t managed to professionalise the national league. Its strength also determines the level of the national team“
Creative with resources
As a result, Tjaden is working with an amateur team towards the European Championships 2022 in its own country. According to him, there is a lot to be made up for by dealing creatively with the limited resources.
The preparations for the European Championship have been kicked off with an interstate against Germany:
Match premiums were abolished when he was appointed four years ago; according to Tjaden, the money could be better spent on extra training hours and practice matches against strong countries. In the meantime, the premier league has also been kicked out, which should increase resistance.
“We need to be top fit for that European Championship,” Tjaden emphasises. “That‘s the last thing we need
His approach was not well received by everyone. Several players decided to stop playing for the Dutch Team, but are now knocking on the door again now that the KNVB has agreed to the plan to invest more in indoor football.
It is the mission of the 49-year-old Tjaden, who himself as a player experienced the tail end of the Dutch glory years at the beginning of this century. Now he is facing a hell of a job, the man who describes himself as an idea thief. “I’m trying to pick up something from everyone.“
This is how he has to deal with the cultural differences within his team. Orange has become a very diverse company over the years, in contrast to the years in which exceptional talents such as Edwin Grünholz and De Bever were still in the service.
Tjaden, himself of Indian origin, also hears the prejudices from outside. “A team full of Moroccans, is that the Netherlands? I don‘t think that’s neat. In fact it‘s not, they’re boys who were born and raised here. And they are fast, explosive and dynamic, which is what the modern game calls for“
Hinting at two thoughts
According to Tjaden, the problem lies mainly in the clubs where they play, where he limps on two thoughts. On the one hand, he wants the premier league to be better, but for the moment he prefers to select players who are active in a stronger league.
“The players who put the Dutch women‘s team on the map were also active for top foreign clubs at that time,” Tjaden observes. “And the Dutch Team will also benefit if Donny van de Beek becomes a better football player at Manchester United
Indoor footballer Mohamed Attaibi became an internationally renowned player at Lazio and was successfully used in the campaign to bring the European Championships to the Netherlands.
The video that was made to bring the European Championships to the Netherlands:
“But most of our internationals just have a social career,” Tjaden emphasises. “We have an accountant, a civil servant and a parcel deliverer in our team. Nowadays we can compensate them if they have to hand in their working time for training
At the same time, Tjaden was on a training course with Sarina Wiegman, a name he likes to drop. Not only out of admiration for her work among the women, but also to indicate that he is not running away from his responsibilities to put this branch of football back on the map.
“The women are far beyond us by now, look what Sarina has been able to do against all odds. I remember where women’s football was in the Netherlands when I was still playing
As far as that is concerned, indoor football does not have to come from far away, a sport that in the Netherlands is bigger than the crumbling status of the national team would suggest.
According to Tjaden, it is still too early in 2022 for an attack on the top countries, but in the meantime the project must be able to gain a face. “I always say: if the Dutch win, the Amsterdam canals will be for the men, the Utrecht canals for the women and the Rotterdam gutter will be for us. That is our audience, very diverse