Mixed feelings at Jonker after Nations League draw: ‘Players blown to bits’
Jonker on Nations League: ‘Sportingly top, but have mixed feelings about it’
After the draw for the first Nations League in women’s soccer, national coach Andries Jonker has mixed feelings. Of course he too is looking forward to those (at least) six extra top matches, but the increasingly crowded schedule worries him a lot.
Shortly after the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, Orange kicks off the first edition of the Nations League. With England, Belgium and Scotland as opponents, there is plenty to look forward to.
Sport-wise, it is therefore a blessing that the Nations League is being introduced in women’s soccer, Jonker believes. “But I have mixed feelings about it. Any right-thinking person can see that that playing calendar is too full.”
“It is very nice that you are now rid of those practice matches, the result of which is already clear in advance. The big countries must now always be top. You have to manage. But on the other hand, players are being pushed over the cliff. You hold your heart for the next cruciate ligament injury.”
Knocked back about games
The discussion about the busy playing schedule in top women’s soccer has been going on for some time. Earlier, Jonker said he would find it logical if top players did not play soccer at the Olympics, in order to unwind.
However, his group of players appeared to think otherwise, Jonker said. “I was ‘whistled back’ by three oldest players in the group. They said that the Games are very important to them. Three youngest players agreed with that.”
And yet, according to Jonker, it remains important to keep the conversation about the playing schedule going. In that, he believes players and coaches should take the lead.
“We see and feel how big the burden is. Initiatives are also emerging now, in which coaches are saying that this should be different not possible. After all, it can’t always be ‘and, and’.”
Andries Jonker’s concerns about cruciate ligament injuries don’t come out of nowhere, we explain in this explainer:
Sportexplainer: buckling knees in women’s soccer