Thursday, July 21, 2016

World Cup 2016: Spotlight on the Netherlands | Nederland in de schijnwerpers

Spotlight on the Netherlands  
By Chula Bruggeling

Editor’s Note: Chula Bruggeling is President of Quidditch Nederland.

Quidditch in the Netherlands started, in true European fashion, in a very complicated and very international way. Jerona van der Gevel, having played for Norwich, UK once, missed playing quidditch and went to Brussels Muscles Invitational in Belgium in Nov. 2013, where she was a merc player for the French team Toulouse Muggle Quidditch. In Feb. 2014, both Van der Gevel and Bram Vries, who had learned of quidditch online, merced for Norwegian team NTNUI Rumpeldunk at European Quidditch Cup 2014.

Also in early 2014, high school students Rosa van der Ven and Anouk van Luijk, later joined by Arjen van Assem, had their own plans for quidditch in the Netherlands and started the first actual team in Utrecht: NILS Quidditch.

Meanwhile Jerona van der Gevel and Bram Vries were working together with Laurens Grinwis Plaat Stultjes and David Danos, among others, in the form of Benelux Quidditch, with Belgium Muggle Quidditch (now Belgium Quidditch Federation [BQF]) and Muggle Quidditch Nederland (now Quidditch Nederland [QNL]) as two subgroups. As of now, Benelux Quidditch as an NGB no longer exists, with both Belgium and the Netherlands having their own official NGBs

These four, together with the people behind the Dutch forum and interest group WizardWear, organised the first quidditch event in the Netherlands at Elfia 2014, the biggest fantasy fair in the Netherlands, spreading interest in the sport across the country. Then Deurne Dodo (now Antwerp Quidditch Club) made the trip to the Netherlands to help out, as well as various other Belgian and German quidditch players including Juliane Schillinger, who would later go on to start the Wageningen Werewolves together with Chula Bruggeling.

Following Elfia 2014, various people around Amsterdam came together and started the Amsterdragons, while Kanta Di, having come back from UBC Quidditch in Canada with a taste for quidditch, kickstarted the formation of the Leiden Portkeys. By the end of the year, the two teams merged for practical reasons, renaming themselves the North Sea Nargles

Lastly, Nick van Klaveren started Dom Tower Dementors at the start of the 2015/2016 season in Utrecht, after which the last remaining players of NILS Quidditch ― which had somewhat collapsed in on itself due to younger high school students not being able to play in official tournaments and leadership being focussed on other things such as high school exams ― transferred over to the team.

There are currently only three official teams in the Netherlands: North Sea Nargles, Wageningen Werewolves, and Dom Tower Dementors. These three teams are joined by two unofficial, developing teams, and a handful of interested groups spread throughout the country. Together, they make up about a 100 people

The Nargles and Dementors are community-based and not affiliated with any school or university in particular. The Wageningen Werewolves are made up of students from Wageningen University, but not (yet) officially affiliated with the university. For now, the developing teams are looking to be community teams as well.

Wageningen Werewolves at the European Quidditch Cup 2016. | Photo Credit: Van Klaveren Quidditch Photography
With quidditch in the Netherlands still trying to find its feet, its tournament structure is finally starting to take shape. It now has a national championship, as well as the Benelux Cup, an international tournament co-organised with BQF, which was used these last two seasons to decide on the Netherland’s European Quidditch Cup (EQC) spots. Earlier this year, the community decided it wanted a summer tournament to end the season for club teams, and the Open Dutch Summer Cup was hosted in June ― which, as the name suggests, was also open to teams and players from other countries. Plans for a formal league are also being made, but nothing has officially been decided upon yet. 

The various Dutch teams have occasional friendlies with teams from the neighboring Belgium and Germany, and the Netherlands has participated in EQC for the last two years. Last summer, a national team made the trip to Sarteano, Italy for the European Games. 

The Squad
For this year’s national team, every member of QNL could fill out an application to be considered. Those interested in a coaching position could also send in an application, and those positions were divided by vote, with every team getting one vote, as well as the QNL board itself. Bram Vries was unanimously chosen to return once more as head coach for the Flying Dutchmen, with Rein Anspach filling the role of chaser coach and Jerona van der Gevel joining as beater coach.

The Roster (by Position)
Charles El-Zeind (Wageningen Werewolves)
Nick van Klaveren (Dom Tower Dementors)
Willem-Jan Kok (Wageningen Werewolves)

Rein Anspach (North Sea Nargles)
Arjen van Assem (Dom Tower Dementors)
Emrys Karlas (North Sea Nargles)
Maura Martens (Dom Tower Dementors)
Robin Mier (North Sea Nargles)
Clio Plowman (Wageningen Werewolves)
Maikel Roelofs (North Sea Nargles)
Cassandra Vogel (Wageningen Werewolves)
Nikki Voss (North Sea Nargles)
Bram Vries (North Sea Nargles)

Charlie Hölscher (North Sea Nargles)
Jerona van der Gevel (Dom Tower Dementors)
Marit Epskamp (Wageningen Werewolves)
Robert van de Ven (Wageningen Werewolves)
Ryan Pendavingh (Dom Tower Dementors)

Finn den Boeft (Dom Tower Dementors)
Hanna Bouma (North Sea Nargles)
Linda Hooijschuur (Wageningen Werewolves)

Bram Vries snitching at Deutsche Quidditchmeisterschaft 2016 |Photo Credit: Van Klaveren Quidditch Photography
Interview with Bram Vries, head coach and captain of the Flying Dutchmen
Bram Vries, Gameplay Director for Quidditch Nederland, will once more take on the responsibilities of head coach and captain for the Flying Dutchmen. We talked to him about his team and the coming tournament.

Quidditch Post: What are your goals for this tournament?
Bram Vries: Our goal for the team is to play the best quidditch a Dutch team has ever played while learning as much as possible and enjoying the experience at the same time. Like a lot of other teams this is our first World Cup, but we did play at the European Games last year. We don’t know exactly what to expect from all the teams, but we do know that we can beat some of them. First, we’ll aim for the Sweet 16 and then we’ll see where we go from there.

QP: What will your team need to do to accomplish these goals?
BV: We’re all training very hard in preparation for the tournament. If we give it our all as a team, I know that we can just do it. As long as everybody learns something from this adventure and makes some good memories, I will be a happy coach.

QP: How is your team preparing for World Cup?
BV: Unlike a lot of other teams, we live quite close to each other, and because of this almost our entire team can be present when we’re training. In total, we will be playing together on 10 different occasions before our first game at World Cup. We’ve played friendly matches against the German team, during which we improved a lot as a team, and we have some friendlies coming up against our regular teams.

QP: Hopefully the coverage of the event will attract some new players, because any new players at this point are a pretty big deal to us. I also hope that everyone who goes to World Cup or training with us takes what they learned and uses that knowledge to improve the level of quidditch in the Netherlands.

QP: Are there any teams that you particularly would like to play?
BV: The teams that I would like to play the most are those who we haven’t played against yet and who we won’t encounter easily at other events. If they are roughly as good as us, that is a huge plus.

QP: Who are some of your team’s key players?
BV: Our players all have their own different set of skills. Some may stand out more than others, but if we want to win we will need to rely on our teamwork and not on the ability of a few players to do something spectacular.

QP: Who would you say is one player who doesn’t get the attention they deserve?
BV: I don’t think that Dutch players get that much recognition outside of their own country at the moment, so I would say everybody.

QP: The Netherlands is a very small country, with only three official teams. How do you think this might influence your team?
BV: The advantage is that we all know each other reasonably well and have a lot of opportunities to play together. The disadvantage is that we have a very small pool of talent to pick from and that players don’t play that many matches unless they go to (fantasy) tournaments in other countries.


With the Netherlands being a very small country, with only three official teams to boot, pretty much everyone in the community knows each other and knows how the other players play. This is amplified by the regular friendlies the teams host, in which players often arrange themselves into makeshift teams somewhat randomly. As such, players are more than used to playing both with and against each other, giving them great insight into each other's strengths and weaknesses. Together with the regular national team practices and practice games, this will probably make the Netherlands one of the teams that best knows each other ― beaten only, perhaps, by the Slovenian team, which might as well just continue calling themselves the Aemona Argonauts.

Dutch players have a bit of a reputation for playing a rather non-physical game, and it is sometimes joked they prefer cuddles and hugs over tackles. That has slowly been changing over the past season, however, as players and teams slowly seem to become more comfortable with the more physical side of the sport. An example would be keepers Charles El-Zeind and Nick van Klaveren, who certainly have not shied away from playing a physical game this season.

As for chasers, the Flying Dutchmen do not tend to rely on key players, instead opting for a solid base in which each player knows their role. 

Looking at beaters, a player who has to be mentioned is newcomer Robert van de Ven, who started playing just this season but has already made a name for himself as one of the best offensive beaters the Netherlands has to offer.

Finn den Boeft chasing for Dom Tower Dementors | Photo Credit: GC Bruggeling
Whereas for some teams seekers sometimes seem to be an afterthought, preferring to rely on being far enough out of snitch range that whoever catches the snitch doesn’t matter and thus whoever goes on pitch as seeker doesn’t really matter, the Flying Dutchmen recognise that seekers are just as valuable as any other position in the game. With three outstanding players for the position, and Bram Vries himself being able to seek if needed, the Dutchmen certainly do not see the snitch as an afterthought. Finn den Boeft is a fast and agile seeker with experience going all the way back to the beginnings of quidditch in the Netherlands with NILS Quidditch, and they have gained international experience at both EQC 2015 and European Games last year. Next on the list is Hanna Bouma, who caused some surprise last year at EQC 2015 when they handily managed to catch the snitch against favourites for the tournament, Oxford Chimeras. Rounding out the seeker department is Linda Hooijschuur, primary seeker for the Wageningen Werewolves since their founding in 2014, who has experience at both EQC 2015 and 2016. Both Bouma and Hooijschuur are often underestimated due to their smaller size, which they have made plenty of use of over the years.

All in all, the Flying Dutchmen might not be the most physically imposing team, but they do not need to be. Preferring tactics, speed, and agility over strength, this is a team that knows each other well, both on- and off-pitch, and is looking to prove the progress the Netherlands has made over the past year.

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