The Dutch football association KNVB is starting an experiment allowing a 19-year-old woman to play for the top men’s team at her Frisian club.
Ellen Fokkema has been given the green light to play for VV Foarut, the local club in the village of Menaam, which has a population of fewer than 3,000 people.
If the pilot is a success, the KNVB says it will look at changing the rules to allow women to play in the adult competition. Mixed teams are currently allowed up to the age of 18.
‘It is fantastic that I can continue to play in this team,’ Fokkema said on the KNVB website. ‘I have played with these lads since I was five and it was a real shame that I would not been in team with them next season.’
Faced with being separated from her team mates, Fokkema said she asked the club if they could put in a joint request to the KNVB. ‘I have no idea how it will work out, but I am super happy to be taking part in the pilot,’ she said.
Art Langeler, the KNVB’s head of football development, said requests for mixed teams are made every year.
‘The KNVB supports diversity and equality and we think there should be room for everyone to play as they want to,’ he said. ‘And this is a real challenge which we did not want to block.’
Women’s football became part of the KNVB’s remit in 1971 and in 1986 the association allowed mixed teams up to the age of 12. The age limit was extended to category A youngsters in 1996.
By sanctioning mixed football, the KNVB says, girls in small villages and towns where there may not be enough female players are able to take up the sport.
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