Young, younger, DalfsenArticle
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NEWS FEATURE: The oldest player in the squad of the Dutch champions is 23 years old - top stars move abroad

»EHF CL Channel »2015-16 Women's News

Young, younger, Dalfsen

The fifth and last title in the Dutch league in May was something like a farewell trophy for SERCODAK Dalfsen with nearly all top stars of the Dutch champions leaving after becoming national champion and booking the ticket for the EHF Champions League qualification tournament.

The national team players Kelly Dulfer and Inger Smits joined German side VfL Oldenburg, line player Esther Schop transferred to Nantes in France, while Myrthe Schoenaker signed for Füchse Berlin in Germany.

“We nearly lost our full back court, and this is really hard to compensate for,” says coach Peter Portengen prior to the EHF Champions League qualification semi-final next weekend against Norwegian runners-ups Glassverket in Drammen.

“We are used to be something like a training company. We educate young players, bring them to a high level - and then they leave abroad, mainly to Germany or Denmark. But the situation in the last two years is really tough, as ten of our best players left the club,” Portengen is sad, adding: “With last season’s team we might have had a chance at the Champions League qualification tournament, but not with our current squad.”

Dalfsen has remained traditional in terms of being the club for the best Dutch talents, even from a very young age. This season, three players who are 15 years old are part of Dalfsen’s team - and they will have court time, not only be part of the training.

The principle in Portengen’s club is easy: It has rented eleven rooms in a hotel for the young players, who come from all over Netherlands. They train eight times a week, go to school and/or start their job besides handball. “Nearly all top talents of the Netherlands have started their career here,” Portengen is proud.

In addition, the 128 times former Dutch international is assistant coach of the women’s national team and the U19/U20 national team of the Netherlands.

And at the moment a huge number of his young players are still part of those younger age national teams - the average age of his team is 20! “Our master of defence Fabienne Logtenberg is the oldest player in our team and she is 23 years old. This says it all about the structure of our squad.”

The only non-Dutch player in the Dalfsen team is Norwegian Astrid Mjoen Holstad. The 21-year-old right back arrived from top club Byasen Trondheim and is the only player with experience of the Group Phase of the EHF Champions League.

For the fourth consecutive time, Dalfsen are part of the Champions League qualification - and like in the three previous times, the Dutch champions are not expected to qualify as unfortunately for them the 2013 and 2014 Champions League winner Györ were drawn in their tournament.

“It would be the biggest sensation in the whole history of handball, if we managed to beat them,” Portengen says with a smile: “We definitely lack the international experience to even be victorious against the Norwegian hosts, but of course we hope for a surprise.”

Dalfsen can count on strong wings such as Angela Steenbakkers and Ana Pavkovic, the biggest Dutch goalkeeping talent Kristy Zimmerman, a strong defence, but one which lacks experience in the back court due to the transfers of their top stars such as Dulfer.

But despite this situation, Portengen has extended his contract in Dalfsen. All of this on the back of defeating VOC Amsterdam twice in the final of the 2014/15 Dutch championship (33:26, 35:25) to finally win all their league matches in the previous season.

“Even if we miss the qualification for the Champions League Group Phase, we will continue in the European Cup competition - and for our young team these are perfect surroundings to gain experience and learn for the future,” Portengen says.


TEXT: Björn Pazen / bc