As usual, there have been a lot of transfers at the European water polo market this summer. Many players changed clubs.
Some of them change their nationality.
A 28-year-old center-forward, Jorn Winkelhorst had decided not to play for the Netherlands anymore and to naturalize as a German. Winkelhorst has been playing for German club Waspo Hannover for a while.
He emphasizes that no pressure was exerted on him by his teammates or the German national coach Hagen Stamm.
“Deep in my heart, I prefer to go to the Olympic Games with the Dutch team. But recently, some changes have been made in the national team, which I can’t agree with. I spoke about it several times with the national coach and the team management, but we were unable to resolve it. For a long time, I was thinking about what I should do: to continue with the “Oranje” in a way that I do not believe in myself or to stop and end my Olympic dream?”, Winkelhorst said, and the Dutch website waterpolo.nl published.
“Both options didn’t feel right to me,” continued Winkelhorst, and added that the moving to the German national team emerged as the third option.
Germany will try to qualify for the Olympic Games.
“By starting the naturalization procedure now, I may be eligible to play at the Olympic Qualification Tournament in Rotterdam in February. The chance to reach Tokyo is small for both the Netherlands and Germany. I don’t blame anyone, and I can also look back on a very good period in the Dutch national team.”
National coach Harry van der Meer respects Winkelhorst’s decision.
“Jorn is a very strong center forward and has performed at a consistently high level in recent years, both with his club in the Champions League and with the national team. I would have liked to keep up with him, but we differed too much about the approach towards the Olympic qualifications. I am open to different opinions, and players have a say on many matters, but in the end, I have to make decisions as a national coach and then try to get all in the same direction with my staff. Unfortunately, that did not work for Jorn. But, it is inherent to top sport. I also look at it from the bright side. His departure creates more room for younger mid-pros to develop more quickly.”, Harry van der Meer told waterpolo.nl.
The Netherlands finished 15th at the 2020 European Championships in Budapest, while Germany won the 9th place.
Three remaining tickets for Tokyo
The Dutch water polo team will start to prepare for the Olympic Qualifications in September.
The Netherlands and Germany are in the same group at the Olympic Qualifications in Rotterdam and will play the opening game against each other on February 14. In this group, are also Croatia, Russia, Romania, and France. The B group consists of Montenegro, Greece, Brazil, Canada, Georgia, and Turkey.
Only the first three teams will qualify for the Olympics.