Assistant head coach Kreek: “Football is experienced more purely by women”

Michel Kreek, former player of Ajax and alumnus of the Master in Sport Management at Johan Cruyff Institute, has been the assistant coach of the Dutch women’s football team since last November and hopes to be able to use his experience to contribute to the sustainability of the success from last summer

“I like it a lot so far,” says the former international Michel Kreek enthusiastically. “In the past, I already gained experience working for the Dutch Football Federation when I was Aron Winter’s assistant with the Dutch men’s U19 team. Currently, a lot of developments are happening internally and it is great to be a part of it all. Together with the girls, we are working hard to qualify for the 2019 World Cup in France. So far, we are unbeaten and have played all our home games in sold-out stadiums, which is obviously very special.”

Assistant head coach Kreek: “Women's Football is experienced more purely” - Johan Cruyff InstituteMichel Kreek, who joined the technical staff as assistant coach last November and thus succeeded Foppe de Haan, had more than 16 years of experience as a professional football player at Ajax, Vitesse, Perugia, AEK Athens and Willem II, and then continued his career as a youth trainer at Ajax, the head of the youth academy at Almere City FC and as an assistant of Frank de Boer at Internationale. And then the Dutch Football Federation called with the proposal to become the right hand of head coach Sarina Wiegman for the Netherlands women’s national football team. In addition, the former midfielder got the offer to work as the head coach of the Dutch women’s U20 team, with whom he will be playing the World Cup in France this August. And so it happened.

How is the coach experiencing the transition from men’s to women’s football? “Coaching women is so different from men; the team culture is very different. I see a greater willingness to achieve something together and the girls are more task-oriented and loyal. There is greater respect for each other, the referees and the opponents, and football is experienced more purely. This may be due to the fact that the interests and the money flows are less than in men’s football. Hopefully, this will not change now that women’s football is booming.”

“Coaching women is so different from men. I see a greater willingness to achieve something together”

“There is a very positive development going on and the national football federation KNVB is working hard to set up the pyramid in such way that the level of women’s football can continue to develop with the aim of being among the best in the world,” continues Kreek. “In my opinion, the biggest challenge is to position the women’s First Division better, so that the clubs can develop both their first teams and their youth academies.”

It is not only women’s football that is developing strongly. Kreek also strives for personal growth. “I think it’s very important to continuously develop myself as a person and coach. For example, in 2012 I studied the Master in Sport Management at the Johan Cruyff Institute when I became responsible for Ajax’s youth academy U13-U16 teams. I was inexperienced in the field of management and I believed it was important to gain more knowledge about this area. I also strive for this in my new position. Through this transition, I’m learning how to deal with the differences between coaching men and women and how to tackle things in other ways. I am positive that this choice will enrich me as a coach and make me more versatile. That is very valuable. I am calm and analytical myself, and I hope that, in addition to my own practical experience as a professional football player, I can contribute to the development of the Orange Lionesses and Dutch women’s football in general.”

“The main challenge now is to continue with our success after last summer’s European Championship, and to focus on the next goal”

When the Orange Lionesses won the European Championship last summer, women’s football exploded in the Netherlands. Now qualifying for the 2019 World Cup in France and qualifying for the Tokyo Olympic Games 2020 are on the program. According to Kreek: “The main challenge now is to continue with our success after last summer’s European Championship, and to focus on the next goal. We want to be first in our World Cup qualifying group, but we will only play against our biggest competitor, Norway, in September. The atmosphere in the group is very positive, the technical quality and tactical level is high and the girls are working hard on the follow-up after this success. I am confident that we will follow this path successfully and that women’s football in the Netherlands will continue to develop positively.”


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