Dutch FA Makes Landmark Decision Allowing First Woman To Play On Men's Team

The decision is part of a pilot program to increase women's participation in the men's game.

History was made in the ninth tier of Dutch football after the KNVB (Dutch Football Association) announced a new program of integrating women and men in the sport.

Ellen Fokkema will be the first woman to play on a senior men’s team. The 19-year-old will play for VV Foarut in the lower levels of the Dutch football ladder, the KNVB announced on Tuesday.

Fokkema isn’t being randomly thrown on a men’s team and told, “good luck.”

The Netherlands offers mixed football with girls and boys until the age of 19. Once that age is hit, any woman who wants to continue playing on a mixed team has to drop from Category A play to Category B.

Fokkema said in a statement that she has been playing with the team since she was young and is excited to keep her teammates.

“It’s fantastic that I can continue to play in this team,” Fokkema said. “I’ve been playing with these guys since I was 5 and I was sorry that I wouldn’t be able to play with them in a team next year.

“From the KNVB I was always advised to continue playing with the boys for as long as possible, so why shouldn’t it be possible? It is quite a challenge, but that only excites me more.

“I asked the club if something was possible and together we submitted the request to the KNVB. My teammates also reacted enthusiastically that I can stay with them. I can’t say how it will go, but I am very happy that I can participate in this pilot.”

Art Langeler, the KNVB director of football development, said in the statement that girls and women playing with boys and men is unique and there is a desire for it to be accomplished.

“Every year there is a request from an association to let woman play football in their first men’s team,” Langeler said. “In my opinion it is special that girls at all levels can play mixed football, but as soon as the boys move on from under-19 to Category A of the men, they have to play football without the women in their team.

“The KNVB stands for diversity and equality. We believe that there should be room for everyone in every way.”

The Dutch FA said if the program proves to be successful, the rules of could be permanently changed to allow women and men to play together.

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