It is no news that women’s soccer has been growing quickly and inspiring many young girls to start practicing ‘the most popular sport in the world’. A reflection of the aforementioned fact can be clearly spotted with the Nederlands vrouwenvoetbalelftal winning the UEFA women’s championship in 2017 and being the runner-up of the 2019 World Cup, where thousands of Dutch fans occupied streets and stadiums to support The ‘Oranje’.
Soccer in The Netherlands
A crucial reason for the Dutch rise in women’s soccer has to do with the reactivation of the women’s Eredivisie, which has been expanding regarding the number of teams and investments made by organizations and institutions. The league has been capturing hearts of many girls across the country, creating a drive to compete and to improve their game. However, the fact that The Netherlands is still behind in many aspects of women’s soccer cannot be denied, even though there has been a drastic improvement in techniques and playing style. Nowadays, women’s soccer in The Netherlands is mainly heard about in an international context since there are still few spotlights to the national league. This problem leads to many young girls leaving The Netherlands to play in other countries where they can have a better development during their youth, such as the United States, Germany or even France.
The Transition from The Netherlands to the US
Having a strong tradition in women’s soccer, the United States have proven themselves to be way ahead of other countries, as they have won the most World Cups and given rise to top super stars who are reference for any girl who dreams of playing for their national teams, such as Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe. Nevertheless, the soccer culture and system in the US are a bit different compared to other nations. In the Netherlands, for instance, players usually start in the youth or academies of their respective clubs and then seek for moving up until they make it to a professional level. Following this path can bring not only many positive consequences, but negative ones as well, such as abandoning their studies and focusing on their club/national team exclusively. On the other hand, the college system in the US seeks to combine the athletes’ studies and sports. Players will be getting a high-quality education as well as being coached by numerous professionals, who will be ensuring their development inside and outside the pitch. Also, several American universities have facilities that can be compared to professional teams or even better, which is definitely an extra motivation factor for the young ladies.
Guaranteeing Success Inside and Outside the Pitch
While many think it is impossible to reach to a professional level in the US or find it difficult to leave their lives behind to pursue a supposedly uncertain dream, this is not what most professional players think. 21 out 23 players of the 2019 USA World Cup winning squad represented a university in America before going professional. College soccer is considered a level below professional and the benefits go beyond having the chance of developing as a player, and eventually playing professionally. Other advantages include improving your English to a business level, graduating with a valuable international diploma, experiencing the American college culture, earning a scholarship to play and study, developing personally, building an international network, and stepping to a successful career.
The number of girls making the transition from Europe to the US has been only increasing over the years and with the progressive rise of soccer in The Netherlands, many girls are having the opportunity to improve in all areas of their lives and building a successful future. The Dutch defender Lieske Carleer (19), who played for the Dutch National Team U-19, grasped the opportunity to go to America and is now playing for Arizona State University, one of the top-ranked teams in the NCAA DI. Also, the talented defender Lisa Blankestein (20) made the decision to leave Achilles’29 and spend one year at the University of Kentucky, before moving to Troy University. Both of them have been developing their game to a next level and living the time of their lives in the States. This is just the beginning for both of them and for any girl who has ever dreamt of achieving great things in soccer and school.