Manon Flier leads “Flying Dutchwomen” into battle
The month of June presented the international volleyball family with one of its greatest off-court highlights. Manon Flier said "yes" to her long-term partner Reinder Nummerdor. The intimate ceremony gathered family, the couple’s closest friends and, of course, their volleyball teammates.
Nummerdor and Flier are legends of the sport, and not just at home. Both have captained their national team, and Nummerdor's achievements include becoming European champion in indoor volleyball (1997) and beach volleyball (2008 to 2010). The 37-year-old, who played at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Grand Slam tournament in Stavanger shortly after the wedding, has also participated in four Olympic Games. Participating in the Olympics is a dream that his new wife has not yet been able to fulfil. Flier is, however, one of the best female volleyball players in the world, combining good looks with an attacking force possessed by few others in this sport.
In January, the 30-year-old led a young Oranje team built around her strengths to their sixth consecutive appearance in a FIVB World Championship. She chipped in with 25 points in the decisive game against Croatia. "The Netherlands have always been present at the World Championships and we are relieved and happy that we will also be in Italy for this year’s tournament. We have a young team with a lot of potential. This major global tournament gives us the chance to compete against the strongest countries in the world, which is an essential experience if you want to grow in quality,” said Flier, looking ahead to the highlight of the season.
Her national coach Gido Vermeulen added: "We want to use this world stage to show what we are capable of, and to amaze the world." Amaze the world – the 1.92m Flier has been doing that for more than a decade now. Her brutal leaping serves are as feared as her crashing attacking shots and helped the Netherlands to victory at the World Grand Prix in 2007, where she was also named MVP. "That's still my greatest success in the national team," she said. In 2009, Flier also won silver with the Netherlands at the European Championships, where she was once again MVP.
Flier has now played in well over 400 international matches and is looking forward to her new role as the leader of the young "Flying Dutchwomen". "I really feel good with the role I have right now. I’m more relaxed than before. As a youngster there is so much new stuff that comes your way and that can take a lot of energy. Right now I can lean on my experience. And it actually gives me energy to help the other girls when they need advice. We have a young team so to balance it out I think it’s a good thing to be there as a more experienced player. But most of the time I don’t really feel older. With this team it’s so easy to blend in."
As a child, Manon would never have dreamt of a career leading the national team. A friend convinced her to come with her to volleyball when she was just eight years old. She enjoyed it: "Volleyball is a team sport, diverse and complex, and you need a lot of technique to be good." Mastering the game so well and becoming one of the best female players in the world did not just happen overnight, however: "I'm not a superstar, but after a while I was always able to do what the coaches asked me to do." Her first role model was her father, who used to play in the second league in the Netherlands. It did not take her long to become better than her father and she has since won various Dutch championship titles.
Flier has always wanted to develop her skills further, which is why she moved to teams in other countries. She became a star in Italy, where she also met her husband to be. A year in Japan was "really a great experience: volleyball is a big sport there and the fans are amazing!"
Flier has spent the last two years playing in Azerbaijan, but the blonde Dutchwoman has been popular wherever she has played. Why? "I play until the final ball. I like to smile and celebrate, and cheer for my teammates."
She will do the same again at the FIVB World Championships this year. Flier is also looking forward to the European Championships in 2015, which will be co-hosted by her home country the Netherlands and Belgium. And then there is fulfilling her big dream of taking part in the Olympic Games. She would no doubt love to be in Rio in 2016 – preferably with her husband of course.