‘There was no better solution’
Circumstances forced national coach Andries Jonker to begin preparations for next month’s World Cup with a sizeable group of players. After all, a number of those selected, including Champions League finalists Jill Roord, Dominique Janssen and Lynn Wilms, were allowed to recover from a long season and did not have to report to Zeist until later.
On the downside, however, soccer players now have to drop out again heading into the final tournament in Australia and New Zealand. Among the first victims last Wednesday was Romée Leuchter, which was surprising.
The 22-year-old Leuchter is a striker for Ajax, with whom she captured the national title, has already played 11 international matches and scored two goals, both at last year’s European Championship against Switzerland.
“We started with a list of thirty and all thirty were entitled to it,” Jonker explains. “But at some point you have to make a choice. The considerations we make in that are for Romee and for us. Not for the outside world.”
“We think Romee is an extremely talented striker and she has been doing her best, training fine. But not everyone can come along. And that’s a tough decision.”
Although Jonker does not want to show the back of his tongue, he does lift the veil a fraction. “Romée played at the European Championship, but yes, Fenna Kalma’s statistics are the best in the world. Even better than Vivianne Miedema’s. That one is second.”
“And rabbit out of the top hat Katja Snoeijs is third when it comes to statistics. But I can’t count with that. We look at who we need at the moment.”
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The ominous news hit Leuchter hard. And also to newcomer Alieke Tuin, the other dropout. “Sure. Such a player does her stinking best and looks forward to a World Cup. You hope to be there and then when the coach says ‘from now on it stops and you are on call’, yes, of course it hits hard. And it’s the right thing to do. But it’s also annoying for me as a trainer.”
Nevertheless, Jonker still stands behind his approach of inviting many more women than can soon take them to the title tournament. “We want to work with four goalkeepers and 22 field players. If those are not there because some still have time off, we have to find solutions. And then this is a solution. We couldn’t think of a better one. And we were able to train great the first three days.”