The Antibarbari men’s team were crowned champions in the third class C on Sunday. Thanks to their 7-0 victory against NOC Kralingen, the Rotterdam-based team has mathematically secured first place and can no longer be overtaken by second-place HOV/DJSCR, who trail by four points. There is one match left to play.

Club President Esther Vermaat called winning the championship ‘magnificent’. “We’ve been hoping for this for years and we’ve worked for this the entire season.” Head coach Hans Harmans was ‘very pleased’ with the result. “Winning a championship is always a unique achievement.”

Late surge

The Rotterdam-based students didn’t have a strong start to the season. “We only took two points from our first five games”, says Harmans.

Over the course of the season, Antibarbari experienced a late surge that saw them win seven of their last eight games to take the lead. Harmans: “That’s actually much better than holding the lead for the entire season. We were really the underdogs in the battle for the title. At the start of the season our objective was to simply reach the play-offs by having won one of the periods, for example.”

‘Maybe an international student will show up’

The head coach praised the team’s strength as a collective. “This was most obvious during the medal presentations. There were thirty to thirty-five players who came to collect their medal. They really feel part of the team, and how often do you see that? In professional football, players aren’t that closely committed to the team. As a result of our strong team play, we came from behind on numerous occasions. We would turn being down by 3-0 into a 5-3 win.”

As champion, Antibarbari will be promoted to second class. Harmans expects that the team will be able to compete at this level without any difficulties. “I’m convinced we’ll end up with enough points to stay up. This shouldn’t be a problem and it looks like we’ll be able to keep most of the team intact for next year. Maybe an international student who’s really good at football will show up too. That would mean we could be competing for promotion again.”