Rob Bontje's rapid rise on the Netherlands volleyball scene is a true story of success. The middle blocker was called out of nowhere in May this year to pull on the orange jersey of the Netherlands for the first time in a friendly series against Brazil and ever since the 22-year-old has been one of their best.
The Netherlands coach Bert Goedkoop put Bontje straight into the starting six against the World champions and the 206cm tall giant has never been out of the starting formation since.
Bontje is one of the players from the Dutch 'talent team'; a project started three years ago where all the young talent from Netherlands plays for the club team of BMC/SSS. Setter Nico Freriks, Joram Maan and Robert Horstink have also been part of BMC/SSS in the past.
Bontje entered the roster of the Dutch national team after star Bas van de Goor retired and Sander Olsthoorn decided not to play during the World League. This opened up the position for Bontje. During the training sessions, he showed Goedkoop the spirit and motivation required and was rewarded with a starting six position in the first World League matches against Olympic champion Serbia & Montenegro.
Thanks to the great spikes and blocks of Bontje, Netherlands won the second match 3-1 and he showed the fans in Eindhoven that he could be one of the Dutch stars for the future.
"I didn't feel any pressure," Bontje said after the victory over Serbia & Montenegro, only his ninth international in his young career. "I didn't know my opponents and I tried to play as freely as possible."
Meanwhile coach Goedkoop is very impressed. "Bontje played at a very high level and I am sure he will be much better. He has the potential to reach the level of the best Dutch middle blockers Bas van de Goor and Henk-Jan Held."