Netherlands pilot scheme to allow women to play in senior men's team for first time

Art Langeler
The Dutch FA's head of development Art Langeler says 'there should be room for everyone' in professional Dutch football

A new pilot scheme that will allow amateur women to play in a senior men's team in the Netherlands has been approved by the Dutch Football Association.

The KNVB has given permission for one woman - 19-year-old Elle Fokkema - to join fourth-tier VV Foarut for the 2020-21 season.

The pilot could lead to regulations amended permanently to allow more women to play 'category A' men's football.

"The KNVB stands for diversity and equality," the organisation's head of development Art Langeler said.

"We believe that there should be room for everyone in every way in football."

In a statement,external-link Langeler confirmed the KNVB receives a request from an association "every year" to allow women to play in a first men's team.

"In these cases there is a nice sporting challenge that we do not want to block," Langeler added.

"That is why we are starting this pilot. Experience will tell if and how it works and based on that, we could apply a change of regulation."

Mixed football in the Netherlands was introduced in 1986 and the current rules allow girls to play in those teams up to under-19 level.

VV Foarut play in the 'category A' fourth tier of Dutch football meaning Fokkema would have been left ineligible for the first team and forced to play in a 'category B' team after reaching the age limit.

"I was sorry that I wouldn't be able to play with them in a team next year," Fokkema said.

"From the KNVB I was always advised to continue playing with the boys for as long as possible, so why shouldn't it be possible?

"It is quite a challenge, but that only excites me more. I dare not say how it will go, but I am very happy anyway that I can participate in this pilot."

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