Basketball, volleyball, badminton, swimming, athletics – the list of sports that Sari Van Veenendaal tried before deciding on football is pretty long. And then, at the age of 12, she and a friend tried the nice game, and the rest is history.
Ideally, her family would have preferred that she was interested in other sports and did not return home with scratches, but the young Dutchwoman had fallen in love with Goalkeeper and the responsibilities involved. “Now they are my biggest fans,” she laughed to FIFA.com.
The talented 29-year-old can now refer to a CV that includes a medal for the UEFA Women’s EURO 2017 and a runner-up at the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019 ™ and the Adidas Golden Glove award she won at the European Championships last Competition. To top it off, she was nominated for Hedvig Lindahl and Tiane Endler for the first FIFA Women’s Goalkeeper Award.
“Both are great all-around players and are not afraid of anything,” she said. “They both had a great season.” The question of which of the three Shotstopper will win the prestigious award will eventually be answered on Monday at the highly anticipated Best FIFA Football Awards ™ in Milan.
A premiere worth celebrating
“It’s an honor to be nominated,” Van Veenendaal continued. “This award says something about the level of the female goalkeepers, and I think we have to celebrate it because it means being taken seriously, it is a very important step, the women’s football is growing and now it’s as if the women’s football goalkeepers. ” grow too, so let’s celebrate this award together, because it belongs to us. “
This first recognition of the goalkeepers is after a World Cup that has been talked about often, and not necessarily in the critical tone that was heard in previous tournaments. “I have seen some great parades, but also some great personalities, and this is all the more important as we have a job that bears a great responsibility, and seeing that we perform well makes me really proud,” she added,
Van Veenendaal’s parades were decisive for the historic entry of the Oranje relegated into the final of the women’s World Cup, held only for the second time. On a long list of top-quality stops are the highlights she made in the round of 16 against Japanese Yuka Momiki, those who contested Sweden in the semifinals and those who kept the Netherlands alive in the final in the second half.
“My best memories of the World Cup are the last seconds of the semi-final against Sweden. At that point, we knew we were going to play in the final and that may only happen once in a lifetime. “
Do it your own way
Like many of her generation’s goalkeepers, Van Veenendaal has come to where she is today through hard work, self-confidence and a lot of self-study.
In the 2000s, when Edwin Van der Sar was successful in the English Premier League, Hope broke down barriers. “She was the first high-profile goalkeeper for women and I saw her workouts on YouTube,” recalls Van Veenendaal.
“For me, it was very important to see that the female keepers are also able to move and that helped me. Let’s hope that after the World Cup, we can become role models for boys and girls playing football. “
Fans in the foreground
Dutch football will be held high on Monday with nominations from Van Veenendaal, coach Sarina Wiegman, team captain Virgil Van Dijk and various Oranje players in the FIFA FIFPro Men’s and Women’s World XI.
But there is another prize that may turn orange: the Best Fan Award, for which the thousands of Dutch fans cheering on their team in France were nominated.
“If there is an award we should win on Monday it will be with the fans because our fans deserve it so much,” Dutch number one said. “It was crazy during the EURO 2017, but we did not know what would expect us this year as the EURO was held in our own country, but they are incredible – they follow us everywhere, we painted France Orange and it was really something special, we have to continue that, as a team we are very proud that so many fans support us, they would be worthy winners. “
On September 23rd, the recipients of the Best FIFA Football Awards 2019 will finally be announced. Will Van Veenendaal be the first female goalkeeper to be honored at the ceremony? “I want to enjoy the night and hopefully we all win because we deserve it,” she concluded.