Number of active players: ~1000
Notable beach tournaments: Hargen and Monsterball
Past participation in beach championships: ECBU 2008, WCBU2011
Division participation at ECBU 2013: Mixed, Open Masters
The Dutch: Famous for paying for their own food (“going Dutch”, excludes ultimate players of course), eating cheese, wooden shoes and windmills. The Netherlands has plain grass fields in abundance and white shore beaches within a 2 hour drive for everyone in the country. However, unlike the southern European countries, the Netherlands is also highly recognized by its abundance of cold weather and rain. As a result of that, beach ultimate is rather limited and usually takes place during summer, when the big European beach tournaments have already been played.
Ultimate in the Netherlands is currently on the rise, sprouting several new clubs around the country and yielding merits from programs like the city league (where people make up a team of 4 to 5 non-players to introduce them to the sport). Because the regular Dutch competition only takes place on grass and the level of talent in the Netherlands is highly spread out, the majority of players in the Netherlands stay within the Benelux region for an occasional tournament or two. Teams looking for more competitive atmospheres usually go outside of the Netherlands to compete, visiting tournaments like G-spot and Tom’s Tourney for grass and making appearances at Costa Brava Tourney and Burla Beach Cup for beach. The highlight of the season for many of these players, however, is the international highly competitive tournament Windmill Windup. While this tournament is hosted in the Netherlands, not many homegrown players make a showing at this event. The amount of players with international competition experience is rather low, and players that do go to these kind of tournaments also end up going to WFDF and BULA sanctioned events.
Currently, the Netherlands is host to four national teams: a U20 boys grass team, a U17 girls grass team, as well as a mixed and a masters beach team for the ECBU. While we wish the juniors a lot of success in their road to Cologne, we are very excited to see the national selections for the ECBU. The selections house a lot of talent and experience on the field, showing both young blood, but certainly also old blood. While these players will show you their game on the field, off the field they will house a lot of pride as well. In-team synergy and connection often provide a lot of fun, which translates into a great atmosphere in and around the team. Count on several players even going into the party with the Belgians until the wee hours of the night. You better pack those hangover pills into the players pack again, Spain!
However, don’t count these guys out. While their beach game may need some calibration in the transition to the hot weather and the nice Calafell beaches, these teams contain a solid base and they’re looking to make an impact at the ECBU as they will be in contention for both hardware as well as spirit prizes. Let’s take a look at each team:
Anyone seeing the Dutch masters play will know that masters is a huge understatement. Together, these players combine for roughly 200 years of ultimate experience. The selection is primarily based around the successful dynasty of the Red Lights, historically the most successful team in the Netherlands. This core has shown to be very strong on the beach, shown by their annual appearance (under the name Zoccoli Misti) at the Burla Beach Cup, having brought back hardware for the past three years.
The selection itself contains standouts across the board. Look for Red Lights Martin Louwe, Jeroen Oort and Jankees Ruizeveld to utilize their height across the board, winning most duels in the air, while also making a lot speed on the ground with their big strides. Furthermore, the ultimate-IQ of handlers like Erwan “Joone” Jounalt, Michiel Kooreman and Hylke de Vries (who made an appearance with the Dutch Open National team at the WUGC in Japan last year) will quickly have them move the disc around the field, and will certainly benefit them later on when they play the final. While much can be said about anyone in this team, most notable is the addition of Tessel Hillenius. I honestly can’t remember playing or seeing a Red Lights game in which Tessel wasn’t present. She is and remains one of the best female ultimate player in the Netherlands and she will definitely make it hard for any man that comes across her path. Look for her to make a big impact all-around in the Masters division.
Making only one appearance at a tournament (Benelux Beach Cup) so far, the season of the masters team extends much further than just the ECBU. The ECBU is just another tournament in the road as they try to make it four years straight in as medal-winners at the Burla Beach Cup in Viareggio in September. Last thing said: I expect this team to make a big impact at the ECBU, making their home country proud.
If there’s one team anyone wants to be around at the ECBU it’s this one. After coming back from a disappointing 12th place finish (7th among European countries) at the WCBU in 2011, the team decided to go at it once again. In the regular season, the team beat beach-standout Portugal twice and kicked their Worlds appearance off with a decisive comeback and win against Ireland. However, a string of close games proved hard to overcome and all hope was lost for their objective of a 4th, 5th or 6th place finish. But the team is back, and they’re stronger: way stronger.
This group is generally described as a raucous group of Dutchies, including a couple of Dutch wannabes. They have a lot of tall men and generally fast women. They’re known to play hard all throughout, utilizing whatever energy they have left. Not much has changed from two years ago. They are known for having a lot of fun, being highly competitive and spirited, and enjoy hanging out together: their in-team synergy will really prove a factor at the ECBU. The team’s strength may be partly due to the fact that tryouts for the ECBU mixed squad were all the way back in mid-winter November and January, respectively. Because the winters are very cold in the Netherlands, players who come out to these events (playing barefoot) can be expected to be mentally and physically tough. Since the weather in the Netherlands has stayed cold up until late April, expect this team to have no problem warming up in Calafell, but most of all be able to play in any conditions.
When looking at this team we see a high variety of highly specific skill-sets. Much like the masters, they have talent across the board, but also a wide variety in age difference (up to 20 years, youngest to oldest). Recent additions Linda Schipper and Justine van der Meulen are the main threats to look out for. Both on offense and defense, these women are fierce and will not back down to streak deep for a score or to prevent easy under cuts on defense. If conditions are windy, steady handlers Rogier Postma, Jon Stoltzfus and Marieke Buijs prove to improve the team’s performance significantly since the 2011 set-up, hucking deep even against the wind. Generally, this team is stacked with a lot of speed: expect these guys to show their wheels and lay out whenever necessary.
The team has made three appearances already at preparation tournaments (although without full rosters). They had important wins against Great Britain and Portugal at the Monte Gordo Invitational and had a strong 4th place showing earlier at Bibione. This team bears great potential for success, but will have to get past rivals Ireland to show they can bring it. Because the format leaves no room for error, expect them to give it all they have!
Article by Joram Mossink