Jill Roord (25) likes to be important. Standing in the base, in a place where a lot is expected and demanded of her. She feels pressure, but above all she feels confident. “And it’s a nice feeling, it triggers me.”
On Saturday, she was equally important, as she equalized against Sweden in the first game of the European Championship in the Netherlands. The goal came after she moved from the right side to the number 10 position after half-time.
There she plays in her club Wolfsburg. This is his favorite place, also in the Netherlands team, close to his girlfriend Vivianne Miedema and in the center of the field. She will likely be back on Wednesday night against Portugal – or so she hopes national coach Mark Parsons picks him. “I was happy with it and I think it went well.”
Roord feels appreciated by the one who succeeded Sarina Wiegman in September 2021, but must get used to the national coach. The contrast between the Hague player, who likes to be short and clear, and the Englishman, who has a long web and a lot of eye for the player’s welfare, can hardly be greater.
Parsons wants football players to play differently from what they are used to, put on more pressure and win the ball quickly, whereas they have always played a bit more conservatively. In the preparation and in the first half against Sweden, we could see that they had trouble with that. The team was steadily falling apart, limping in at least two minds.
In the second half things went much better on Saturday and in the next matches against Portugal and Switzerland, weaker than Sweden on paper, coach and players have time to get closer. But it is clear that they are still looking for the right way to work at the European Championships.
“He’s a really nice man,” Roord says of Parsons, “a good man who wants to bring out the best in everyone as an individual. He’s passionate and busy with us and I have a lot of respect for that. It is different from our culture and you have to get used to it.
The Englishman is sometimes interrupted by the Dutch, says the native of Oldenzaalse. “He’s used to America, it didn’t happen there. And he gives more talks than Sarina. Not only about football, but also about other things that he finds important: norms and values, the atmosphere in the team. He also asks a lot of questions. When I say I don’t feel well, he asks: why don’t you feel well? He likes to go deep and then 50% give up with us. Me too. I find it interesting, but sometimes I also have to laugh: what kind of question is that?
And you tell him that too?
“Yeah, we have a few that do.”
Is it true that his meetings sometimes last three hours?
“Intensely yes,” Roord laughs. “The first time he was there, we immediately pointed it out: it’s taking too long. Now they are shorter, but sometimes I think to myself: did it take a meeting and how long? But he learns, it improves.
Roord played a year at Arsenal and speaks good English, but the language can be confusing at times. “The way he talks about football in English, with all sorts of American terms, is new to me. That’s why sometimes it takes a bit longer, so we have to check what he’s talking about.
What do you think of his idea to put more pressure and faster?
“We all like the way of defending, of putting pressure on them, we like that too. We are more into building and positional plays, he wants to go deeper into the depths faster. We prefer not to have that, but on the other hand: we have the qualities for that, with fast people in front. We are finally on the ground. If we think we have to build now, then we build, and it’s still like that.
The magic word that is often used is “compact”. Football players should stay together as much as possible, keep a restricted playing field. When the pressure is on, everyone has to accept it. In practice, this sometimes turns out to be difficult.
“That’s one thing,” Roord said. “If the spaces become too big, we are very vulnerable, we see it ourselves and we are also working on it. But we have such an experienced team, if we realize after ten minutes that it’s not working, we have to transform it ourselves.
In Saturday’s chaotic first half, in which goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal and centre-back Aniek Nouwen gave up, the Netherlands mostly trailed the Swedes. Roord in particular had to take a lot of steps, which visibly irritated her. Things improved after the conversion in the second half.
At half-time, it turned out that the players and the coach can find themselves under high pressure. It became emotional after the failure of both players and the difficult match. Parsons said at the press conference that he asked Miedema about his thoughts in the dressing room. She had the idea, among other things, of putting Roord on 10 and moving Daniëlle van de Donk to the right.
“After that more football happened,” says Roord. “Sometimes it takes a little something.” This allowed her to be important in the first match of the tournament, and not for the first time. She immediately scored the winner against New Zealand at the 2019 World Cup. Laughing widely: “Yeah, so if we can keep it going I’ll sign for that.”
“Introvert. Avid gamer. Wannabe beer advocate. Subtly charming zombie junkie. Social media trailblazer. Web scholar.”