“I grew up in a professional football family,” says Jessica Rosenberg, CEO of SC Heerenveen Women. “My father, uncle, nephew and grandfather all played football at a high level. My grandfather played for ADO Den Haag and Helmond Sport, along with Faas Wilkens, was the first paid professional abroad, and also played football with Abe Lenstra in the Dutch national team. My father Andrei Rosenberg played football for Campore for years. I never played football myself, in my youth there was no girls’ football. However, I was able to keep up with sports, especially ball games were my favorite.”
Roosenburg is a co-owner of the Connection Company and Arena Company. Within the Connection Company, you work for many different companies with leaders and teams. “Several years ago, the SC Heerenveen Women’s Foundation was discontinued due to financial problems,” she explains. “There was a temporary board that included the director of Sport Fryslân and Sport Fryslân was another client of mine. They asked me if I wanted to be on the board of a newly created institution, ‘Stichting Vrouwen Voetbal Noord-Nederland.’ I didn’t say ‘yes’ straight away. I have board experience, but wanted to think about my place and role on the board. But I wanted to learn and guide the leaders myself, so I took the initiative. I also wanted to do something for the community in the form of volunteer work. Informally, I’ve been chair for more than three years even Now, I will be officially on November 1 of this year. The learning has been a success. If you keep your eyes on the goal, you will go a long way.”
These were turbulent times for the new establishment. There was no fat in the bones, because of Corona the stadium was closed and little or nothing could be organized. “But things are going well now,” she says excitedly. “We were huge financially and as a club we ultimately chose to go back to our roots, that is to go back to what we had always been, a coaching club. Vivian Midema, Sharida Spitz, Lake Martins and Shanice van de Sanden started with us and then moved on to the big (foreign) clubs. It’s also nice to mention that Kirsten Kasparrig – a real Heerenveen character – has moved from Heerenveen to Twente and then to Manchester City. She recently made her European debut. At the moment, two other players from our club are heading to America. We are very proud to flock to Big clubs like Ajax (2), PSV Eindhoven (1), Twente (1) and Essen (1).”
Phoebe de Han
We are recruiting talented players. We do this by holding open clinics ten times a year. Scouts from our club explore boys and girls in these clinics. From this funnel comes young players who are allowed to show their skills in talent training, from which comes the final selection. We just got selection training again for our new academy. There is a talented group, Team Promise, led by Tim Zandstra. Four players moved on to the first selection, one group remained and the rest explored by Foppe de Haan, Jacco Koops – who coached well-known water sports enthusiasts such as Marit Bouwmeester and Dorian van Rijsselberghe – and Theo Timmermans. Foppe is creative and he’s just a cool guy. Works with Jacco and Tjalling van den Berg, gymnastics coach and environmental coach (ensures a balance between muscle strength and the mental part, editor). Hans Shriver accepted a huge challenge as a coach and we are very satisfied with it so far. We all have the ambition to raise women’s football to the level of the number one Olympic sport.”
year of integration
“If you are fully alert, girls should start playing football sooner,” she continues. “But generally they start six years later than boys, so they lag behind in athletic ability. There is also a lot to gain in terms of building muscle and condition. But not only in this area, we also want to take women’s football to a higher level by integrating with the Men Club Heerenveen Actually, we are now in a kind of merger year. We want to become part of BVO (Betaald Voetbal Organisatie, editor), i.e. an honorary or first division football club. Currently there are eleven women’s clubs in the Eredivisie. Most of them belong to to BVO”.
A draw wider than football
SC Heerenveen Women is going ahead for five years to continue selection and extend training beyond football only. “Jaco’s approach is to combine the best of football and sports. During the last European Championship, it was very clear that other countries passed us right and left, so the style of women’s football should really be different. Countries around us are investing a lot in women’s teams, and the federation has invested The national football club formerly 50,000 euros a year in women’s football. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case. What is certain is that if you come to play football with us, you will improve. Since the academy is new, we are exploring, but we all have the same goal “We want to make a difference in women’s football. I can only say that the energy is very positive.”
There are still many steps to take
Equality in football between men and women is still a long way off. Cautious steps are being taken, but there is still much work to be done. “Everything is well organized in men’s football. It is really hard for women to find a good physiotherapist. We depend on volunteers and sponsors, which is what we are really looking for. So, if people feel called… I am for equal opportunity, I dream Really so, but I also think you have to earn it. Women’s football has not yet reached the level of men’s football. My grandfather got a hundred guilders for a win, fifty guilders for a draw and absolutely nothing for a loss. There was no collective agreement. But all This has greatly improved for men, and for women we still have a lot of steps to take. Finances and licensing requirements have to come together for that.”
“The whole Wembley stadium is fantastic”
Rosenberg is looking to integrate women’s football with men’s at SC Heerenveen. “Next season, the organization will intertwine,” she concluded. “So we are one brand, which is much better in terms of business and communication. Sponsors often think: ‘I look after the men, and therefore the women of SC Heerenveen too.’ It is not true. We wish we could have more women on the court as an integral part of SC Heerenveen. And that we can connect other companies with us. In this way we can be an added value to the club. There were 87,000 fans at the Women’s European Football Championship final at Wembley. England has invested a lot in women’s football and they have shown it. This is a full stadium, that’s great, Isn’t it? And just getting better.”
Text: Amanda de Vries
Photo: Ann Moore.