Antibarbari’s top female team has been forced out of the district tournament for Saturday and Sunday football amateurs. When the Rotterdam team met their opponents from Barendrecht on the soaked artificial turf of the wonderful sports centre ‘Het Toepad’ (a stone’s throw from Erasmus University) last Thursday, the visiting team dominated more or less the entire match. The Barendrecht players went home after the head-to-head – in which Antibarbari only managed to create a single goal opportunity – with a 1-3 victory.
Due to the bad weather, the two teams couldn’t meet on the regular outdoor pitches, so they repaired to the artificial pitch at the sports centre ‘Het Toepad’ (popularly known as ‘Antibarbello’ – undoubtedly in honour of the complex’s beauty). And despite the drizzle, the big match still enjoyed quite a turnout, with spectators showing up in hopes of a spectacular encounter.
Only last Sunday the players of Antibarbari’s highest-level women’s team had scored an impressive 5-1 victory. Unfortunately, any confidence this inspired soon evaporated after they had kicked off against Barendrecht. The visiting team played a lot fiercer than the Rotterdam team and quickly took the initiative. After an opening phase with very few chances all round, the ladies from Barendrecht were the first to put up a score. This seemed to shake the Antibarbari players awake a bit, because the students finally started breaking through to the opponents’ half of the pitch. With the ball, that is. And suddenly, the women’s efforts were rewarded with a goal opportunity (from a corner), which they even managed to turn into a tie point. Once again there was hope for the home team, until one minute later Barendrecht’s agile striker upped the ante to 1-2. She cleverly feinted her way past the Rotterdam defence, after which she coolly netted the second point. The ladies of Antibarbari were clearly rattled by this quick counter-strike, and they seemed unable to step up their game. After a few minor chances for Barendrecht in the remainder of the first half, the women went to their changing rooms 1-2 behind at half-time.
After the break, things proceeded in more or less the same vein as in the first half. Antibarbari was kept on the defensive and was unable to create any real breakthroughs. Barendrecht kept calmly passing around the ball, waiting for opportunities to strike. Of which there were quite a few, resulting in a number of exciting chances. The home team maintained its defence a bit longer, but was ultimately unable to prevent the opponents from pushing forward to 1-3 thanks to a beautiful long shot. This goal effectively wrapped things up, with the Barendrecht team apparently satisfied with their 2-point lead and Antibarbari unable to build up a counteroffensive. The visiting team seemed to lean back – with one eye on the time board – even though there were ample opportunities to extend their lead even further. Barendrecht failed to score any further points and the match ended 1-3.
“Women’s teams often still play second fiddle”
After the match, Antibarbari coach Roderik van Zevenbergen said he was impressed by the visiting team’s strength: “The difference in quality was plain to see. Individually, they’re all a lot further than we are. If you compare how they receive the ball to how we do it: there’s a few levels’ difference between our two teams.”
Van Zevenbergen went on to offer his views on the development of women’s football in the Netherlands: “At many clubs, the women’s teams still play second fiddle. The trainers of the male teams often earn more than those of the women’s teams. We still have a long way to go, and it all starts with the clubs themselves.” The coach did add, however, that he was happy with how things are arranged at Antibarbari: “They do everything they can to ensure that we can play. Today, for example, three men’s teams had to train on a single field because we needed a pitch for our match. There aren’t that many clubs that do that.”