Matla is increasingly emerging as a leader for Dutch hockey players. Not only because of the striker’s unprecedented record (67 goals in 93 caps), but also because of her position outside the lines, now that the team is still going through a difficult period.
After Saturday’s 3-0 win over the United States in the Pro League, 25-year-old Matla – who was wearing the captain’s armband for the first time – commented on the situation. She described it as good that research into the Dutch team’s performance culture has been completed and, in her opinion, leaves nothing to be desired. “It’s great for everyone that everything is now on black and white paper and that it can no longer be argued about.”
The conclusions are clear. After an investigation by an external agency on behalf of the federation among 47 female players, the painful conclusion came after the women’s team had been in an unsafe sports climate for a long time. The stellar results – the Netherlands won three European titles, a world title and an Olympic gold under then-national coach Alison Annan – masked the fact that so much had gone wrong. There was a culture of fear, strong hierarchy, and mental abuse. Annan had to resign because of those criticisms.
After the first signs appeared last fall, it turned out that part of the selection did not recognize itself in the image shown. Matla says it is no longer the case. “The focus on performance in our team came at the expense of the fun and well-being of the players. This is clear from the report. We can now all look in the mirror: what have we missed as players, as a team, as a crew, as a signaling association? And what do we want to do differently in the future? I showed myself Also modified behavior in the past.
Caterer player Den Bosch admits that not all problems have been resolved with the resignation of national team coach Annan. Our priority now is to work on communicating with each other. We want to build a healthier future with lots of fun.
Matla stresses that it will be a long-term process. It is a dynamic process and many small and big steps have already been taken. We look critically at what we want to be different; For ourselves, for the team, and for everyone around him. There is now more room to discuss matters. If I find something comfortable, I tell the national coach or my teammates.
We have to make that blind spot visible to ourselves again. But it takes time. Confidence has been broken and some players may have been slightly damaged. “We have to take each other and move on,” Matla said after the match, undisturbed by the hundreds of kids who were constantly chanting her name.
New national coach
And behind Annan in February, assistant national coach Jamilon Mulders. He was appointed as temporary pope until next summer’s World Cup finals in the Netherlands and Spain. After that, the German will leave for the Dutch national team.
Curiously, Mulders did not read the performance climate research report. “I don’t think it’s my duty to read the report,” said Mulders, who Annan hired as an assistant after the Tokyo Olympics. I am responsible for other things. I see it as my duty to watch and listen. Together we have to make sure that girls really care about each other and really connect with each other. We have to create an atmosphere where everyone feels comfortable.
On the initiative of the group, the national coach gave the captain’s armband to Matla on Saturday, the first for a Brabant striker. But it is not known if the top scorer – who scored twice in Sunday’s 10-0 game against the United States – will become the permanent captain in the near future.
Mulders wants to continue rotating with the band for now, and seriously injured Eva de Guede remains the captain. Matla did not want to place much value on the captain’s armband on her leg. Although I wore it with pride. With or without a belt, Matla has everything it takes to become the face of the Dutch women’s team in the years to come.
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