They were before Helen Hendrix

Helen Hendrix, Freesia Cosinho Arias, Sous van Cleef, Noa Vahle, Aletha Laidelmeier, Rivka Opp Hetfeld (excellent name for a sports journalist), Leon Stentler: it is impossible to imagine Dutch television without football announcers, journalists and analysts, but less than thirty years ago it was Scarcity of rain in the desert. And if they were on TV, they were hardly taken seriously. Because women, do they really understand football?


In 1996, we put three of them to the test: Rena Himes of Lange de Lien and ESPN, Hilda Brueghenk of Canal + (in fact, the older sister of former footballer and analyst Arnold Brueghenk) and Françoise Jessen, sports programming desk editor at SBS6. Of course, we couldn’t resist asking about the well-known off-roader (Reina Hemmes: “Jeez, I feel like a soccer player André van Duin met!”) and shamelessly tossing all the prejudices about women in the soccer press at the table. What’s the biggest bias men have ever been thrown into? MG: “When I first applied for press cards to go to a Dutch national team match in Poland, I was told it wasn’t a kindergarten class.” To get rid of all prejudices, she never emphasized her femininity, immediately adding: “I would never, no matter how hot, go to a training or competition in a skirt.”

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Bruggink first studied communication sciences in Groningen before switching to football journalism: “So you can call me a PhD student!” Did her well-known brother open the doors for her? Nonsense, she said: “Because of my internship at Langs de Lin, I regularly visited the press rooms of major football clubs. After the end of Vitesse FC Twente, for example, I laughed with everyone. I stood out apparently, a girl with a knowledge of business “.

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Football journalist Rina Himes in 1996: ‘At Studio Sport you are a pretty picture, not a journalist’

It was very unpleasant, Himes believes: “I encountered the most resistance from my male colleagues. As a woman, I had no problem interviewing footballers. My experience is that they are more open. They are more likely to tell a woman about their private life than they are.” Man. Coaches, and I mean the older generation, find it more difficult. You can really see them thinking: Will you understand my illustration of the gameplay?” Hemmes did not aspire to a place in Studio Sport, she said firmly at the time: “At Studio Sport, You’re a pretty picture, not a journalist.”

We interviewed the ladies ahead of the 1996 European Football Championship in England, so of course we also asked for a small prediction about the Orange’s chances. Has the Netherlands become European champions? Of course not, Bruggink said: “We will reach the quarter-finals, but we will be knocked out after a penalty shootout.” And she was right: the Netherlands were stranded in that European tournament in the quarter-final against France after a penalty shootout. Who dared say women don’t understand football?


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