Hard pitch not cricket for Dutch women’s football team in NZ

Andries Jonker with some of the squad. Photo: EPA/ Bianca di Marchi

Just two days ahead of their first game in the women’s World Cup championships in New Zealand and Australia, the Dutch team is being hampered in its training efforts by the presence of a hard patch on the field, coach Andries Jonker has said.

Despite promises that the Bay Oval cricket field would be adapted to the team’s needs, the Dutch players were surprised to find the 30 by 30 centimetre clay plate still there on their arrival.

“I have been told it is used by cricketers to bounce the ball when bowling,” Jonker told broadcaster NOS.  “That thing is rock hard and dangerous for our players, especially when sliding. They promised us a great pitch and it is. Except for this.”

The lionesses, who are playing their first game against Portugal on Sunday, were offered an alternative in Hamilton but considered the hour-and-a-half drive from their current accommodation in Tauranga to be too taxing.

“We’ll just have to make do and adapt our training,” Jonker said.

Pitch problems have been plaguing the Dutch team’s preparations at home as well as abroad. A game against the under-19s in Brabant had to be cancelled because glass and rubble were found on the grass and a training session in Sydney had to be cancelled because the pitch felt like a “carpet”, as Jonker put it.

The Dutch team’s games will be shown live on NOS television and live-streamed on Fifa+.

The Dutch group games (CET)
July 23, 9.30 am The Netherlands – Portugal (Dunedin)
July 27, 3 am USA – The Netherlands (Wellington)
August 1 2023, 9 am Vietnam – The Netherlands (Dunedin)

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