‘About time, too’
‘Party into the wee hours,’ predicted Sherida Spitse after winning the national title Sunday afternoon. The next day, the Ajax Women’s captain admitted that it had indeed become night work. “It did become 04:00 or 05:00. It was very cozy.”
So Spitse’s prediction came true. How different it is for just about every follower of women’s soccer. Whoever asked any of them a few weeks ago who would become champion invariably got the answer: FC Twente.
“I never really cared about that,” says Spitse, before throwing out an ancient cliché. “The ball is round, so in soccer so much can happen.”
But cliché or not, even in this the midfielder was proven right. Because although FC Twente led the entire season in the women’s premier league, in the final round of play it was suddenly Ajax that took the lead.
A day later, Spitse underlines once again how special the title is. “With friends, family and people from the club you really notice that it means something. But it was also about time. Hopefully this is already a good start for next year.”
The last time Ajax became champions was in 2018. Actually too long ago for the club with the biggest budget and best facilities in the league. Or as goalkeeper Lize Kop, with her gloves in one hand and a bottle of champagne in the other, summed it up after the game, “He’s home again.”
Daphne Koster put it a little more diplomatically. “It’s a nice culmination of the process we’ve put in place,” said the women’s soccer manager at NOS Langs de Lijn.
For Spitse, the championship is one of many on her list of honors, which includes two titles with FC Twente, four titles with Norway’s LSK Kvinner and, of course, the 2017 European title with the Orange. But becoming champion with Ajax, the goal with which she returned to the Netherlands 2.5 years ago, was still missing from the list.
“I was already a fan of the club as a little girl, and still am. So this is kind of extra special. I have always gone to clubs with which there are prizes to be won. But you can want that, you also have to do and leave a lot for it. So I’m kind of proud that it worked out.”
The midfielder joined the Amsterdammers in January 2021. She now calls that first six months “difficult.”
“I joined halfway through the season, then I’m not going to say all kinds of things right away. I first wanted to see how things went at the club and who I was working with. But I also had to play differently. More dynamic and play more forward soccer than I did in Norway. I had to become a better player.”
Meanwhile, the record international has the role at Ajax that she has long had with the Dutch national team: that of a leader. “Of course I gave my opinion at times that first six months, but not like last year and certainly not like this year. That takes time.”
“And well, eventually you get to where you are now: with the bowl in your hand.”