She must have been flying for more than 24 hours, but once in the New Zealand town of Tauranga, Orange captain Sherida Spitse realizes she is “on the other side of the world”. “It’s very different,” the 33-year-old says of New Zealand culture. She doesn’t have much time to think about it. “It’s really going to start now,” says Spitse, referring to the start of the Women’s World Cup.
New Zealand will play the opening match of the World Cup against Norway on Thursday. “Then you can also get in the mood by watching the football,” says Spitse. The Netherlands will face Portugal on Sunday. The captain believes that all the players, “whether they are playing their first or their eighth tournament”, are ready. “There’s a certain tension,” Spitse says.
The fact that Spitse has played more than two hundred times for the Netherlands does not mean that she has become less enthusiastic. “It’s the best thing ever: playing on a stage where you can show yourself as a team and as an individual,” she says. It therefore matters little to him whether to position himself as a midfielder or – as in the farewell match against Belgium – as a fifth defender. “I stand where the coach needs me and I can manage both positions very well.”
There is no knowledge of Spitse in the Dunedin stands on Sunday. For family and friends it was “too far and too expensive and also complicated to travel from stadium to stadium”, said the native Frisian. She doesn’t care, “because you always work with a certain focus on the team, the practices and the competitions. I resigned myself to that a long time ago.”
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