Women’s football in the Netherlands

Worldwide, 29 million girls and women play football, making it the biggest sport for women internationally. In the Netherlands, too, women's football is gaining huge momentum.

In 2016, 151,987 girls and women were registered members of the KNVB, up 4% from the 2014-15 season, with the biggest increase among young players. If the current trend continues, there may be as many as 183,000 registered female players by 2020.

Female participation has several advantages for clubs

More than 2000 clubs in the Netherlands have one or more women’s and girls’ teams participating in competition football. Female participation has several advantages for clubs:

  • Girls’ football generates more members;
  • Additional members means more potential volunteers, leaders and trainers;
  • Both boys and girls tend to stay longer with clubs which have mixed membership. This contributes to a better atmosphere as well as more cohesion and diversity;
  • Girls often take their (non-footballing) girlfriends along to matches and training.

From lion cub to Orange Lioness

Will today’s Dutch girl talents become the world stars of the future? And will the Netherlands succeed in qualifying for the Women’s European, World and Olympic Championships on a structural basis?

We definitely think so. And that’s why we’re investing a great deal of energy and effort in coaching talent. We’re giving talented football players plenty of opportunities to develop their skills, with the ultimate goal of reaching the very top of Dutch and international women's football.

Vivianne Miedema, star striker of the Orange Lionesses.

The best women footballers of the country are called up for the women’s national team, known as Oranjeleeuwinnen (Orange Lionesses). The team first took part in the Euros in 2009 and went on to reach the semi-finals. They again qualified for the UEFA Women's Euro 2013 and made their maiden appearance in the elite round of the World Cup, held in Canada in 2015. But their greatest success came in the summer of 2017, when they lifted the European championship in their own country. The achievement gave a strong boost to girl's and women's football in the Netherlands.

The Orange Lionesses celebrate a goal.

The A-team are not the only successful representative women’s side. The Netherlands women’s Under 19s, for example, secured the European title in 2014 and reached the semi-finals of the 2016 UEFA Women's Under-19 Championship in Slovakia.

Women’s Eredivisie

The top-flight Women’s Eredivisie marks another step towards a better future for Dutch women’s football. The KNVB and the participating clubs have pledged their commitment to building up an attractive and appealing Eredivisie league competition on the basis of the current stable structure.

After three seasons of a combined top-level league with Belgium, the BeNe League, the Eredivisie became an exclusively Dutch competition from the 2015–16 season. The league now consists of seven clubs: ADO Den Haag, Achilles'29 Groesbeek, Ajax Amsterdam, sc Heerenveen, PEC Zwolle, PSV Eindhoven, FC Twente and Telstar VVNH Velsen.

It’s a long-term desire to expand the Women’s Eredivisie. At present, a number of clubs believe it’s not the right time to join the highest league in Dutch women’s football.

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