This weekend marks the start of the Dutch women’s league, which features a number of strong contenders for the championship.
In one of Europe’s most historic leagues, the 2022/2023 season will be the 99th edition of the Dutch Eredivisie. Women’s water polo in the Netherlands, bolstered by an ever-improving national team, is unquestionably on the rise, despite the fact that the league has disappointingly not returned back from eight to twelve teams yet.
The reigning champions, the Polar Bears, are one of three teams who have a serious chance of winning the league. De Zaan will be strong challengers, as will GZC Donk – who have added some outstanding players to their team over the summer.
The eight teams featured in the league will face each other three times. The top four thereafter will progress to the championship play-offs.
Participating teams: Polar Bears, ZV De Zaan, GZC Donk, ZVL-1886, UZSC, Het Ravijn, De Ham, PSV
Position Last Season: 1st
Coach: Koen de Weerd
Key Players: Lola Moolhuijzen, Laura Schinkel, Lisa Backer, Nina Van de Geijn
First game of the season: Het Ravijn
Despite finishing nine points behind ZV De Zaan in the regular season last year, the Polar Bears won three of the four title-deciding games in last season’s championship playoffs to seal their eighth Dutch championship – their second in a row.
The Polar Bears have been a consistent force over the past few seasons; their very talented team combines youth and experience. With the departures of Fleurien Bosveld and Joanne Koenders though, younger players will need to fill the void left by those two very experienced players.
The only time we have seen Koen de Weerd’s team play this season was a week ago in Lille, where they had a difficult time, losing to three strong opponents: Dunaujvaros, Plebiscito, and LUC. But the Polar Bears will no doubt find themselves in contention for the title again this season.
ZV De Zaan
Position Last Season: 2nd
Coach: Mick van den Bree
Key Players: Bente Rogge, Maxine Schapp, Lieke Rogge, Britt van den Dobbelsteen, Maud Koopman
First game of the season: ZVL-1886 Center
Although ZV De Zaan are seven-time champions of the Netherlands, they haven’t won the league since 2001. This season though, De Zaan will be a formidable opponent, with the club currently retaining an extremely talented roster. It all went wrong for De Zaan in the finals last year, but under a new coach there is a new impetus around the club.
With the likes of Bente Rogge and Brit Dobbelsteen, both of whom enjoyed extensive summers away with the national team, as well as signing some promising youth players such as Esmee Roijen (ZVL) and Lois Den Ouden (UZSC), the team is well fortified. Another significant acquisition was Maud Koopman, who spent the previous season with Ferencvaros in Hungary..
Away from the league, Mick van den Bree’s team will be excited to be playing in Europe this season, but face a tough job qualifying past the group stage. They share a group with Glyfada, Terrassa, Eger and Nancy.
We saw De Zaan smash PSV in the cup over the weekend. They host ZVL-1886 Center in their first game of the season.
Position Last Season: 4th*
Coach: Ingrid Veenhuis-Scholten
Key Players: Brigitte Sleeking, Maartje Keuning, Marit Van der Weijden, Debby Willemsz
First game of the season: ZV De Zaan
The three-time former European champions, GZC Donk, will present an intriguing challenge to the league’s other teams this season. The big news for the club is that they managed to sign Maartje Keuning and Brigitte Sleeking from two of Europe’s top teams, Sabadell and Olympiacos. Marit Van der Weijden and Debby Willemsz, two other quality player who spent last season abroad in Spain, adds some serious firepower to Donk.
GZC finished fourth in the regular season last year, and you feel the club will be extremely disappointed if they do not finish higher in the upcoming season.
They have a box office opening game against De Zaan though, which should be a hugely entertaining affair.
Position Last Season: 5th*
Coach: Lefke van Belkum
Key Players: Janieke Oosting, Anna Pauli, Laura Roels,
First game of the season: ZV De Zaan
ZVL had a somewhat underwhelming season last year, but repeating a fifth place finish might be about as good as they can hope for this year. Nowadays, ZVL are something of a cup team, rather than serious title contenders. With a few good results though, the team coached by Olympic gold medalist from Beijing, Lefke van Belkum, could find themselves in and around the top-four.
The club is once again playing in the Champions League, but they will have a tough task of beating Mataro or Vouliagmeni when they travel to Pacense in November.
They travel to De Zaan for their first game of the season.
Position Last Season: 3rd*
Coach: Brigit Mulder
Key Players: Sarah Buis, Nerida Drewes, Sam Jutte
First game of the season: De Ham
The previous season for UZSC was a successful one, and they will be looking to build on that success this year. Utrecht’s club hopes to rebuild under the direction of their new, young and promising coach, Brigit Mulder. A league championship has not been theirs since the 2016–2017 season.
Their first three games are all winnable, so UZSC could build some early momentum to set them in good stead.
Position Last Season: 6th*
Coach: Wicher Diallo
Key Players: Margreet ter Schure, Noa De Vries, Nina Scholten, Daisy Logtens
First game of the season: PSV
The five time champions of the Netherlands, Het Ravijn, will hope for a season of progression under Wicher Diallo, but the team is still some way off repeating the kind of success as they enjoyed in 2008, when they won both the league and cup double.
Het Ravijn will be satisfied with how their pre-season went, and they did manage to get a win this weekend in the Dutch Cup, with a narrow 11-10 win against UZSC.
Any improvement from last season’s sixth-place finish would be considered a successful accomplishment for the team from Nijverdal. They have a good chance of taking points in their first game, at home to PSV.
Position Last Season: 7th*
Coach: Henk ten Kleij
Key Players: Lizette Rozeboom, Amy Rozemeijer, Anne Collas
First game of the season: UZSC
In the upcoming season, De ham will struggle against the league’s top teams, but they were vastly superior to the league’s bottom team from last campaign, PSV. How well they fare against UZSC in the season opener will be an indication of how well prepared they are for the upcoming campaign. Their ‘cup final’ games will be against the likes of PSV, the first of which is on the 14th of November.
Position Last Season: 8th*
Coach: Lars van Raaij
Key Players: Annelot van Roojen
First game of the season: Het Ravijn
The final team in the Dutch league is PSV Eindhoven. PSV were well-beaten in all their games last season, conceding an average of 14 goals per game.
The aim for the Eredivisie’s weakest team, under the leadership of a new coach, Annelot van Roojen, will be to be more competitive against some of the teams closer to them, and pick up a few points along the way.
*placement in regular league
Please note: Fixtures could be subject to amendment at the discretion of KNVB, the Dutch federation. Total Waterpolo is not responsible for any changes to the schedule of fixtures.
Day 1: 15th October, Day 2: 22nd October, Day 3: 5th November, Day 4: 12th November, Day 5: 19th November, Day 6: 3rd December, Day 7: 10th December, Day 8: 21 January, Day 9: 28th January, Day 10: 29th January, Day 11: 11th February, Day 12: 18th February, Day 13: 4th March, Day 14: 5th March, Day 15: 11th March, Day 16: 12th March, Day 17: 18th March, Day 18: 25th March, Day 19: 1st April, Day 20: 8th April,
Previous Winners (currently in the league)
GZC Donk – 11 (1984-1985, 1986-1987, 1987-1988, 1989-1990, 1991-1992, 1997-1998, 1998-1999, 2004-2005, 2010-2011, 2014-2015, 2018-2019)
Polar Bears – 8 (2001-2002, 2003-2004, 2006-2007, 2008-2009, 2009-2010, 2017-2018, 2020-2021, 2021-2022)
ZV De Zaan – 7 (1988-1989, 1992-1993, 1993-1994, 1994-1995, 1995-1996, 1996-1997, 2000-2001)
Het Ravijn – 5 (1999-2000, 2002-2003, 2007-2008, 2011-2012, 2012-2013)
ZVL-1886 – 2 (2013-2014, 2015-2016)
UZSC – 2 (1941-1942, 2016-2017)
Read more about the Dutch Eredivisie