The Dutch Volleyball Women
In September 1995 the Dutch Women’s team, led by head coach Bert Goedkoop, was very successful. The team became European Champion in the Dutch city, Arnhem. In 1996 the team excelled: during the Olympic Games in Atlanta the Dutch team ended fifth. Regarding the exceptional force of Brazil, Cuba, Russia and China this ranking was the highest possible.
During the following years, the team entered an unstable phase. The women failed completely during the European Championships of 1997 and Bert Goedkoop took his leave in the spring of 1998. His successor Pierre Mathieu performed reasonably during the World Championships (7th position) and sober during the European Championships (5th position). The year 2000 passed plainspoken disappointing. The Netherlands failed to qualify for the Olympics during the qualification tournament in Japan. The women were enormously disappointed.
To everybody’s surprise, the Italian Angelo Frigoni was selected as head coach in 2001. The experienced trainer started energetically and is known to be capable enough to score some good results with his talented players. It’s obvious that Frigoni, former head coach of the Italian women’s team, saw a lot of possibilities to guide his tall Dutch girls to the highest sports on the international ladder.
During the qualification tournament in Den Bosch (the Netherlands), the women gained their ticket to the World Championships of 2002 in Germany. The national team reached a beautiful fifth place, a ranking that fit to the aims Frigoni set. In June the Dutch ladies travelled to France to qualify for the European Championships 2003. Greece, as well as Yugoslavia and France were not a match for the Orange women. Three times 3-0, a magnificent reward for the perfectly playing team ánd Dutch volleyball!
In 2002 the World Championships were held in Germany. The Netherlands started in a group with South Korea, Cuba, Rumania, Canada and Egypt. The team ended third. In the second round the United States, Brazil and Germany were the opponents. The Orange team only defeated the German team and ended therefore on a disappointing 9th position.
The team of head coach Angelo Frigoni, began the 2003 season with several friendly matches against Poland and Brazil. In August the European Championships 2003 started in Turkey where the team ended fourth. The Netherlands managed to defeat Italy, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Ukraine, but lost their matches against Poland, Turkey and Germany. In preparation for the Grand Prix, the Dutch team played four friendly matches against Italy.
The Dutch women first met Japan in the pool round during the Grand Prix, which resulted in a 3-0 victory for the Netherlands. The women of Orange also won the three following group matches against Italy (3-2), Cuba (3-2) and Germany (3-2). They ended second in their group, right after the USA.
In the final round Italy was the first opponent. Although the South European team won the first two sets, the Dutch women managed to pull themselves together and won with 3-2. Russia was way to strong (0-3) in the second match of the final round, but South Korea also lost their match against the Netherlands after winning the first two sets. The women of Orange ended the competition well by winning their final match against Germany with 3-2. A fourth place was the beautiful result! There also was a personal success for Francien Huurman: she ended third in the ranking of best Grand Prix players. Elles Leferink also appeared in the top 10 of best players. She ended sixth.
From 26 to 31 August, the Dutch women played a Grand Prix 2004 qualification tournament in Poland. Because of the good result of the Grand Prix of 2003, everybody expected them to qualify for the next edition, but for the first time in Grand Prix history, the Dutch women did not succeed. Germany, Greece and Bulgaria were defeated, but Russia and Poland were too strong.
In September 2003 the team participated in a four nations tournament with Italy (hosting country), Ukraine and Poland. This was the last official preparation for the European Championships of 2003, which were held from 20 to 28 September in Turkey. The Dutch team lost their first match against Poland, but won with 3-0 from Italy. A nice surprise for the Dutch fans!
On September 22nd, the Dutch team defeated the Czech Republic with 3-2, two days later Bulgaria lost with 3-1 of the Netherlands. The last group match was against Ukraine. The Dutch women won: 3-0. In the semi-final of this European Championship, Turkey was the opponent. The hosting country was fanatically supported by the audience and played well. The Netherlands lost with 3-0 and as a result had to play for the 3rd and 4th place, hoping to at least succeed in winning a bronze medal. Germany was the opponent. The German team started well and won the first two sets. But, the Netherlands managed to win the third and fourth set, so a decisive set was necessary. This last set was very exciting to watch, but unfortunately for the Netherlands, Germany won with 18-16. A fourth place for the Netherlands was the result of this European Championship. Because the Dutch expected more after the successful group phase, this result felt a bit like a disappointment.
2004 began with an important tournament for the Dutch volleyball women. In Azerbaijan they entered the European Olympic Qualification Tournament, the last chance to qualify for the Olympics of that year. The Dutch played against Bulgaria, Italy and Turkey and lost all three matches, a major disappointment for the team. The dream of Athens 2004 had ended tragically.
After a lot of rumours, the Dutch Volleyball Federation confirmed in the beginning of May that Avital Selinger, former international and since then successfully operating as trainer/coach, was hired to be the new head coach of the Dutch women. He started his road to Beijing with two friendly matches against Turkey. In June the team practised it’s skills against Russia, followed by Spain in September.
From 6 to 10 September, the Netherlands participated in an international tournament in Poland, together with the hosting country, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. This preparation for the Grand Prix Qualification Tournament later that month proved to be more than useful. The Netherlands surprised everybody by defeating the whole top 3 of the last European Championships, losing only two sets in the five matches the team played against Poland, Turkey, Romania, Germany and Bulgaria. Avital Selinger had his team on the right track; the first place in the qualification tournament subscribed this statement.
2005 would show how right Selinger was.
In May 2005 the team flew to China, to practise against the hosting country, Poland and Bulgaria. Some of the players (Visser, Huurman, Blom and Van Tienen) didn’t travel to Asia, as Selinger wanted them to have a period of rest after their long competition program.
The World Grand Prix 2005 began well for the Dutch team on June 24. The Netherlands defeated the USA with 3-0. One day later, they lost from China, but after that Selinger’s team was too strong for Thailand, 3-0. In the second WGP playing round the Netherlands started strongly by defeating Italy with a clear 3-0. A victory over Cuba was just missed (2-3), but Thailand lost again from the women in orange. The third round began with a match against the Olympic and World Champion Brazil, 3-1 for the South American samba machine. The Dutch team also lost from Cuba, but South Korea was an easy prey for the Netherlands, 3-0. A place in the final round was secured, an amazing achievement of the renewed team!
The final round in Japan followed. Selinger’s team lost from Brazil, Japan and China, but Italy was defeated again. The last match in the WGP finals against Cuba was lost again, so the Netherlands ended 6th. Avital Selinger was satisfied with his girls since they showed progression and that was his main goal.
The World Grand Prix 2005 only just ended or the Dutch women had to play a qualification tournament for the 2006 edition. The team had lost only one set too many to qualify for the semi-finals, the 2006 edition apparently was not meant to be. They won from Rumania and Poland, but lost from Russia.
In the beginning of August 2005 the team played in the Turkish town Ankara to qualify for the World Championships 2006 in Japan. By winning all three matches, against Ukraine, Belgium and Turkey, the Dutch qualified without any problem. After a few friendly matches against Russia, Poland, Bulgaria and Germany, the European Championships in Croatia started on September 17th. Despite of the fact that there were more matches lost than won, the Dutch team managed to reach the final round in Zagreb. (matches won: Turkey (3-1) and Spain (3-0), matches lost: Bulgaria (2-3), Russia (2-3) and Italy (1-3)). In the finals they showed their fighting spirit: Serbia-Montenegro was defeated without even giving one set away and Turkey was defeated with 3-1. Ending this tournament on a 5th place was satisfying.
In May the international season of 2006 began unofficially for the Netherlands, with two friendly matches in and against Germany. After that, the women travelled to China for an international tournament in which China, Cuba and Russia also participated. A few weeks later, at the end of June, the team travelled to Belgium for several friendly matches against the hosting country. In the beginning of July, the Boris Yeltsin Cup in Russia waited. The matches against Azerbaijan and Turkey were won, but both Russia and China were still too strong for Selinger’s team. The Netherlands ended 3rd. Another series of friendly matches followed, all to prepare for the two major events for the team this year. The first was the qualification tournament for the World Grand Prix 2007, from September 27th until October 1st in Bulgaria. The second and main tournament of the team was of course the World Championships in Japan at the end of October. The Netherlands played in pool C against Cameroon, the United States, Brazil, Puerto Rico and Kazakhstan. The USA and Brazil defeated the Dutch women both with 3-2, but the Netherlands won from Cameroon (3-0), Puerto Rico (3-0) and Kazakhstan (3-2). On the basis of these results they ended third in their group, so they qualified for the second group phase.
In this second round Germany was their first opponent. It was a long, emotional and very exiting match, which was won by Selinger’s women: 3-2. Title favourite Russia however was too strong, 3-0, so a 5th place was the highest possible result after this defeat. Azerbaijan lost with 3-0 of the Netherlands. A day later Olympic champion China awaited. The Netherlands didn’t get intimidated. On the contrary, after 2-0 behind they formed an incredible collective and won the last 3 sets. The next phase was the battle for place 5-8. The 10th WC match against Japan was unfortunately lost with 3-1. The Netherlands could therefore only equal their best WC result ever, a 7th place in 1998. To obtain that goal, they had to defeat Cuba in their closing match. It wasn’t meant to be: Cuba played well, the Dutch women didn’t have their best day and lost therefore with 3-0. The Netherlands ended 8th, still a satisfying result for Avital Selinger, on his road to Beijing.
The busy international season of 2007 started at the end of May with a Four Nations Tournament in Wuxi (China). The Dutch defeated Cuba (3-2) and the Dominican Republic (3-2), but home country China was too strong in four sets (1-3). In the second round the results of the Dutch national team were less positive. After losing from China (0-3) and Cuba(2-3), the Dominican Republic was defeated (3-2).
After the tournament in China the Dutch flew directly to Switzerland to participate in the prestigious Montreux Volley Masters. After years of absence the Netherlands had the opportunity to measure its strength against the top volleyball nations. Following victories over Serbia (3-2), Germany (3-2) and Russia (3-0) in the group phase, Cuba stopped the impressively playing team of Avital Selinger in the semi-final (0-3). In the match for the third place the Dutch women succeeded in winning again from the Serbian team (3-1).
After a short break the Boris Yeltsin Cup was on the programme at the end of June. In the opening match the Netherlands defeated Azerbeidzjan (3-1). The second match was lost from the Chinese women (1-3). After that, the Dutch women beat a Russian students team and Turkey quite easily (both 3-0). In the final China was the opponent again. China also won this match after a very exciting fourth set (35-37)!
On July 28 and 29, for the first time this year, the Dutch volleyball team could be admired in the Netherlands. During the DELA Trophy in the Indoor Sports Centre in Eindhoven, the spectators watched two exciting matches against China. The Dutch women lost both matches in five sets, but this year the team had not been closer to a victory against the Olympic Champion.
In the entire month of August the Dutch team was travelling for the FIVB World Grand Prix. In the first playing weekend in Verona the team lost from Brazil (0-3) and Italy (0-3). The team of head coach Avital Selinger did win from Taiwan (3-0). A week later the Dutch women defeated Japan (3-2) and Taiwan (3-0) in Tokyo. The first match of that weekend against Brazil was lost (0-3) however. In the last weekend the Dutch women had to win all its matches in order to go to the finals. In Macau the women played their best matches and won from Cuba (3-1), China (3-2) and the United States of America (3-1).
The Dutch could hold on to this top form in the week of the finals. This resulted in an impressive series of victories. Olympic champion China (3-2), current European Champion Italy (3-1), Grand Prix winner of 2006 Brazil (3-2), the then European Champion Poland (3-0) and World Champion Russia (3-2) were all beaten by the unchained Dutch women. For the first time in history the Netherlands won a first prize on a world wide level. There was also a personal success for Manon Flier. She received the award of ‘Most Valuable Player of the Tournament’.
After the amazing success in Japan and two easily won practice matches against Croatia (3-1 and 3-0), the European Championships in Belgium and Luxemburg started. The Dutch opened the tournament very strongly with victories over Belgium (3-1) and Slovakia (3-0). Although Serbia won the last match in the group (2-3), the Dutch women were already qualified for the next round. Two victories in straight sets (Bulgaria and the Czech Republic) and a defeat against Poland (1-3) meant an early elimination. The fifth place was not enough for participation in the first Olympic Qualification Tournament, the World Cup in Japan.
Because the Dutch team ended on the fifth place at the European Championships a pre Olympic Qualification Tournament had to be played. Only the winner of this Tournament would be qualified for the European Qualification Tournament in Halle (GER). In Eindhoven the Dutch women won from the Czech Republic (3-0), Hungary (3-0), Ukraine (3-0) and Azerbaijan (3-1). These four victories provided the team with a ticket for the European Qualification Tournament. Thus, the team still has a chance to qualify for the Olympics in Beijing!
In the first match of the European Qualification Tournament in Halle the Dutch team was defeated by Poland (1-3) and against all expectations also the match against Turkey was lost (1-3). Germany made a definite end to the Olympic dream of the Dutch women’s team. A 3-1 victory was not enough to qualify for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
In May 2008 the Dutch Women participated in the Abu Dhabi International Women’s Volleyball Tournament. After defeating Australia (3-0), Italy (3-2), Egypt (3-0), Algeria (3-0) and Germany (3-1) the Dutch Women lost the final match against Cuba (1-3). At the Montreux Volley Masters a rejuvenated team of the Netherlands ended fourth. The team lost the matches against Cuba, Italia and China (all 0-3), but defeated Germany (3-0) and Serbia (3-2). In Ekaterinburg the Dutch women played the Boris Yeltsin Cup and became third. Bulgaria and Ukraine were too strong for the Netherlands (2-3), but Croatia, Belarus and Russia (3-1) were defeated.
In September the Netherlands played against World Champion Russia in the DELA Trophy, in preparation on the 2009 FIVB World Grand Prix European Qualification in Omsk. Both games were won by the Dutch women (3-0 and 3-1).
During the European Qualification tournament in Omsk, with 5 other countries, they lost only 1 set in the first 4 games (against Serbia, Italy, France and Germany). Only Russia was too strong for the Dutch women (0-3). Together with Russia and Germany, the Netherlands has qualified for the 2009 FIVB World Grand Prix.
The busy international season of 2009 started in June with the prestigious Montreux Volley Masters (Switzerland). The Dutch defeated Japan (3-0) and Cuba (3-0), but Italy was too strong in five sets. After losing in the semi-finals from Brazil (0-3), also China was too strong (0-3), so the Dutch Women became fourth, just like in 2008.
In Ekaterinburg the Dutch team played the Boris Yeltsin Cup, as a preparation on the 2010 World Championships 3rd round, and became third. After defeating Azerbaijan (3-2), Belarus (3-2) and Cuba (3-1), they unfortunately lost the semi-final against Russia (1-3), but won their last game against Cuba (3-0).
The 2010 World Championships 3rd round in Almere (NED) was very successful for the Dutch team, because by defeating Slovenia and Azerbaijan, they managed to qualify for the 2010 World Championships in Japan!
In August the Dutch women participated in the 2009 FIVB World Grand Prix. Orange won eight of the nine games; the last preliminary round match against China was the only one they lost. By this, the team of Avital Selinger qualified for the Finals, behind the number 1 of the world, Brazil. In the final round the team persevered their good play of the qualifying round by defeating China (3-0) and Germany (3-2). However the third game against host country Japan was lost, surprisingly without winning one set. The Dutch women were then also defeated by the Olympic Champion Brazil (1-3) and lost their last game against the strong team of Russia (0-3). The team ended up as fourth in this strong competition.
Manon Flier received the award of ‘Best Scorer’ and ‘Best server’ of the Tournament.
In September the Netherlands played against Turkey in the DELA Trophy, in preparation on the 2009 European Championships in Poland. Both games were won by the Dutch women (3-0 and 3-2).
The 2009 European Championships were a big success for the Dutch Women. They opened the tournament very strong by winning the first 5 matches in straight sets. By defeating World Champion Russia (3-2), the Netherlands claimed a place in the semi-finals.
In the semi-finals against Poland, Orange played on their highest level ever in the first two sets and won this match (3-1). Unfortunately the Dutch could not hold on to this top form in the finals against defending champion Italy (0-3). For the first time since 1995 the Dutch Women won a medal at the European Championships.
Biography Avital Selinger, head coach of the Dutch Women’s team
Avital Selinger was born on March 10th 1959 in Haifa (Israel).
Career as a player
From 1974 to 1982 he played for the Israeli Premier League team of Hapoël Hamifratz. During this period he played 60 times for his country.
Selinger moves to the Netherlands and joins the team of Brother Martinus in Amstelveen. With this team he wins ‘doubles’ (Premier League ánd National Cup) and performs well in European tournaments.
As of 1985 he, as former Israeli international, is allowed to play for the Dutch National team. He wears the Dutch uniform in 387 caps (1985-1992). With this number he ranks high on the Dutch (former) internationals list regarding total of caps played. At the Olympic Games of 1992 in Barcelona Selinger and his team win silver and at the European Championships in 1989 and 1991 they end third.
After his period as international Selinger plays for Alcom/Capelle and wins the National Cup in 1994.
Career as a head coach
In 1996 Avital Selinger starts as assistant coach of his father with the Daiei Orange Attackers (later the Hisamitsu Springs Attackers) in Japan. From 1999 until 2003, as head coach, he becomes National Champion and Cup winner twice. The Attackers also win the Asian Championships.
As head coach of Tenerife (2003-2004) Avital Selinger is very successful. Tenerife becomes National Champion, wins the Cup, the Super Cup and as the crown on his work, the Champions League.
On May 1st 2004 Avital Selinger is hired as head coach of the Dutch Senior Women’s team. Straightaway he scores a success by winning the World Grand Prix Qualification Tournament, where the team beat the top three of the last European Championships. In 2005 a sixth place is obtained at the World Grand Prix and the team finishes fifth at the European Championships in Croatia. Also in this year a fulltime program is started; all young players of the Dutch Senior Women’s team join the Premier League team of Martinus. With main sponsor DELA the team is enabled to participate in important international tournaments on their road to Beijing 2008.
In 2006 the team ends second at the World Grand Prix Qualification tournament and at the 2006 World Championships in Japan an eighth place is reached. Highlight is the match against Olympic champion China, which is won by Selinger’s women. The fulltime program at DELA Martinus is continued and completed with the players that played for foreign teams. The program, with a great mix of young enthusiastic and older, more experienced players, sponsored by DELA which recognizes itself in the ambition, freshness and passion of the team, has a pressure cooker effect on the younger players and is of great significance for Dutch Women’s Volleyball.
In 2007 Selinger’s women won the FIVB World Grand Prix, for the first time in history a first prize on a world wide level for the Netherlands! Unfortunately in 2008 Selinger and his team did not qualify for the Olympic Games in Beijing. Later that year, during the European Qualification tournament in Omsk, where only Russia was too strong for the Dutch women, the Netherlands qualified for the 2009 FIVB World Grand Prix.
In April 2009 the Nevobo and DELA have extended their sponsoring agreement for the Dutch Women’s Volleyball team till 31 December 2012. Moreover, Avital Selinger and the Nevobo agreed that he will be the head coach of the Women’s team until the Olympic Games in London 2012. Later on in 2009 the Netherlands qualified for the 2010 World Championships. The 2009 European Championships were a big success for Avital Selinger and his team. They played a great tournament and made it to the finals. Unfortunately Italy was too strong, but for the first time since 1995 the Dutch Women won a medal at the European Championships.