Navigating to Norway: the Netherlands

by Rein Anspach

Roster
Hanna Bouma
Jan-Tino Brethouwer
Finn den Boeft
Twan Elting
Marit Epskamp
Linda Hooijschuur
Peter Hooijschuur
Charlie Hölscher
Emrys Karlas
Willem-Jan Kok
Maura Martens
Robin Mier
Lucy Nicholls
Ryan Pendavingh
Adrienne Robert-Vassy
Arjen van Assem (Captain)
Robert van de Ven
Oscar van Engelen
Nick van Klaveren
Max van Veen
Bram Vries

Nick van Klaveren playing in the Dutch Quidditch League  | Photo Credit: Bruggeling Quidditch Photography

Interview with Head Coach Alexander Blass and Assistant Coach Nick van Klaveren

Quidditch Post: How are you preparing your team for the European Games (EG)?
Blass: The national team unites players of many local teams. It is important to perform at the European Games as a team and not just as a group of players who were selected as the best of their country. Therefore, it is important to not only create a physical unity but also a mental link between all teammates. In many national practices, players from all over the Netherlands came together to achieve this and to improve on the sport we all love to play.
Van Klaveren: After we had selected a practice squad from observations at tournaments and a tryout, we practiced every three to four weeks to create cohesion within the team and to select the players for the final roster. Alex was crucial in giving the team some fresh perspectives, new strategies, and overall coherence on pitch, in addition to the social coherence that was already there.

QP: What are you hoping to achieve at the tournament?
Van Klaveren: The stacked group format is going to result in some interesting matches on Saturday, which we are very excited for. But we have a clear goal: We want to win Group C and rank top 10 at the end of the tournament. We were disappointed we did not make the final 16 at the 2016 IQA Quidditch World Cup, something we definitely could have done. And I’ve noticed that the World Cup result has sparked motivation throughout the Dutch community to improve. We will show that improvement in Oslo.

QP: Which teams do you particularly want to play against?
Van Klaveren: A lot of our players, including myself, have said they want to play Ireland again. We’ve played them at the European Games 2015 with both teams lacking players and experience. We won in SWIM range back then, and I’m curious to see how both nations have developed comparatively since. Of course, we are very determined to win this one again. Also, who doesn’t love the Irish?

QP: What challenges have you had to face in the build-up to this tournament?
Van Klaveren: I think our biggest challenge was finding a coherent structure on pitch. Alex helped a lot in getting this structure into the team. We have really grown in that aspect over the past few months.

QP: What are the strengths of your team? Are there any key players we should watch out for?
Blass: Watch out for the whole team; they are ready.
Van Klaveren: It’s a bit of a cliché to say, but I do think our team is strong over the whole lineup. I have specific faith in our seeker team, though. There’s so much talent there.

QP: What is it like to be an external head coach?​
Blass: I will (hopefully) finally be able to participate in a tournament without getting injured, ha ha. But jokes aside, I am glad that I took the position. It requires a lot of time, but it is also nice to see people growing into their game.

The Netherlands celebrating at the IQA World Cup 2016 in Frankfurt | Photo Credit: Ajantha Abey Quidditch Photography

Analysis

By Sarah-Louise Lewis

As we near the European Games, the Netherlands are looking to put up a fight and show that they have developed since World Cup. The majority of the team have international experience, which will benefit them heading into the games. Also, a third of the team are new this year with a further four of them brand new to the sport, which will allow for a new team dynamic and new gameplay tactics.

Nick van Klaveren is one of the strongest players in the Netherlands in not only his physicality but also in his leadership; he has great field-awareness on pitch and the ability to lead his team through the tournament with success. Bram Vries, the team’s keeper and chaser, is one of the most experienced players and has been a top scorer in the Dutch League this year. His phenomenal track record, combined with his agility and speed, means he can easily outrun his opponents to score goals. Finn den Boeft is an outstanding seeker and chaser who has caught over half of their snitches this season. They have also secured the most points for their team across the board, and are definitely a player to watch out for.

Bram Vries chasing for the Netherlands at the IQA Quidditch World Cup 2016 in Frankfurt | Photo Credit: Ajantha Abey Quidditch Photography

While the chasing game is strong, the beater game is even stronger. Robert van de Ven brings a physical game that will be key in generating chances for the chasers to advance, while at the same time securing the team’s defence. There is also Robin Mier, who has grown and developed a lot over the past year. They chased for the team during World Cup but have now moved over to beating, and have experience and knowledge of how to support chasers.

The problem the team might face is maintaining the structure they have created for gameplay and not just dropping it when things get tough, or they appear to be losing. However, it does appear that they have leaders who can keep them levelheaded and focused on the goal. At the last European Games and World Cup, the Netherlands struggled and did not do as well as they would have hoped. While it is unlikely that they will suddenly do well in this tournament, they are willing to show what they can do and how they have improved.

Overall, the players have had strong seasons that will allow them to put their hard work into the games to really drive the team toward a win. If they dedicate themselves to the games, they may be able to do well in bracket play on Day One; then on Day Two they will have to push to beat the top-level teams, which seems unlikely. However, if they focus, they should be able to finish in a good position.