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19-year-old Ellen Fokkema becomes first adult woman to be a part of Dutch men’s football team

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In a historic first, the Dutch Football Association KNVB announced that it would allow a 19-year-old woman, Ellen Fokkema to be a part of the first men’s team as a pilot project to test the feasibility of the idea.

The latest decision is another step in finally bringing to the fore the entire issue of ”Sports for all.”

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Ellen Fokkema


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Mixed football in the Netherlands was introduced in 1986 and the current rules allow girls to play in those teams up to under-19 level.

The entire bone of contention was this under 19 rule. According to the current rules of mixed football, girls can only play in the category B of men’s team or in a women’s team once they cross 19 years of age.

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“It’s fantastic that I can continue to play in this team,” responds Ellen Fokkema

However KNVB, in collaboration with VV Foarut, a fourth division Dutch club, has decided to give the idea of allowing women in category A  a trial run.

Ellen Fokemma, who has been given this opportunity is delighted. “It is fantastic that I can continue to play with this team,” she said. “I’ve been playing with these guys since I was five and I was sorry that I wouldn’t be able to play with them in a team next year.

“The KNVB always advised me to play with the boys for as long a possible, so why shouldn’t it be possible? It is quite a challenge, but that only excites me more. I asked the club if something was possible and together we submitted the request to the KNVB.”, Ellen Fokkema added

“There should be room for everyone in every way in football,” says KNVB


The entire project seems a very nice way to do what sports have always been about -bringing people together and the KNVB chief Art Langeler echoes the same sentiment.

The KNVB stands for diversity and equality and we believe there should be room for everyone in every way in football.”

“That is why we start this experiment,” Langeler said. “Experience will tell if and how it works. We will monitor how things go in close consultation with the club. Based on that, we could apply a change of regulation.”

The Road ahead-

The entire episode, while exciting and extremely encouraging, does come with its own set of challenges not just for young Ellen Fokkema but everyone involved. The step was taken after regular requests from women to allow them to play in Category A and should the project prove successful, it would surely open new avenues not just for the women involved but for the entire footballing arena.

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