Dutch woman makes debut for men’s senior side

Ellen Fokkema made Dutch football history on Saturday when she became the first woman to play for a senior men’s team in a league match.

Fokkema, 20, came on as a substitute for VV Foarut in their league match against Sleat. The Dutch Football Association changed their eligibility rules for senior men’s football ahead of this season after a successful pilot with the forward last term.

Fokkema told ESPN NL after the match that she hoped she wouldn’t be the last woman to play, “otherwise it would have all been for nothing.”

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She has played for VV Foarut from the age of five, but Dutch FA rules prohibited her from playing senior men’s football — the next stage up from age grade football which ends at Under-19.

Fokkema’s club wrote to the Dutch FA in December 2019 asking for dispensation and a pilot scheme was announced in August 2020 which allowed her to play for Foarut.

She played seven matches until COVID-19 brought an abrupt end to that campaign but the matches gave enough compelling reasons for the Dutch FA to change its eligibility rules in March 2021.

Saturday’s match was Foarut’s season opener and Fokkema came on as a 60th minute substitute, making history in the process despite her side’s 4-0 loss.

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