Home ground advantage at its finest: members share their Amsterdam tournament highlights

Amsterdam netball club tournament

Amsterdam Netball’s second annual international tournament was held on October 6 at Sporthallen Zuid. With an extraordinary 18 teams competing from all over Europe, we were determined to impress, set high quality tournament standards, and most importantly, make it fun. With the club having vastly expanded over the past year, Amsterdam had the lucky privilege to enter four teams into this year’s tournament to try out their standing at the international scene. In the end, our rigorous training, commitment and depth of player talent paid off, as we brought home tournament cup victory by the end of the day. With successes widespread across the club, we thought it best to gain insights from a member belonging to each of our four teams who entered.

Amsterdam Team West

Representing Amsterdam Team West is Blair Radford, 35, an accountant (as well as our trusty club treasurer), originally from Wellington, New Zealand.

The makings of a tournament star…

Blair Radford

I moved to Amsterdam in April 2016. I’d been living in Wellington since university and I was well overdue for a change of scenery and really wanted to live somewhere in Europe. My sister lives in Amsterdam and convinced me it was a cool place to live and easy to get a job and visa, so I packed up my things and made the move.

I looked up netball pretty soon after I arrived, as I had 5 months off before I started working – which is a fair amount of spare time between travels. I think I plucked up the courage to start in June of 2016 and played off and on for a while, then started coming more regularly in 2017.

Tournament day…

This was my third tournament with the club (following Copenhagen and Stockholm). I think it’d be more if we could find more tournaments for mixed teams! On the day, our team took away the gold medal in the Cup competition, beating Berlin 16-7 in the final after being undefeated all day. It was great being able to play different combinations throughout the day and it was really awesome to play in the final with such a big energetic crowd – loved it!

For me, the highlight was having my family there on the sideline to watch me play. My mum arrived in from NZ the night before the tournament, so she came down with my sister and two nephews. My boyfriend made it down too, for his first ever netball experience; he’s a Dutchie who has no idea what “nipple” is, and now I think he might even come for a run around with us sometime.

Key takeaway…

I love to play competitive matches and I also love coming together as a team and forming really good combos with others in my team. I guess my key takeout from the tournament was that it was awesome for both of these things; I’m lucky to be part of a super talented team and to have played some really competitive matches against some good competition. I feel these things help me to bring my game up a level too, so it was a great day!

Blair Radford (front, 2nd from right) with tournament victors, Team West

Amsterdam Team Zuid

Representing Amsterdam Team Zuid is Chelsea Pronk, 28, a business process supervisor, originally from Auckland, New Zealand.

The makings of a tournament star…

Chelsea Pronk

It all began with a rather misguided thought that I would like to come to Amsterdam to continue studying. Once I arrived, it was clear that I was done with university and so instead entered the workforce with a super unglamorous job selling cheese. That was three years ago. Thankfully I have moved on to bigger and better things and now work for the business process team for a global pharmaceutical company.

Stupidly, it took me a couple of years to join the club; I regret not joining earlier as I have met fantastic people that could have made the first two (rather difficult) years a lot easier.

Tournament day…

This was not my first tournament, as I also joined the Paris tournament earlier this year. Coming from a country where any international travel is expensive and time-consuming, the fact that we could simply drive to Paris just to play netball was mind-blowing. I loved it!

On the day, we were placed in the plate grade – the middle of the pack, which I was very happy with! After an energetic few games we were equal on points with two other teams. Unfortunately, it came down to a goal differential and we were not eligible to play in the final, but we did welcome the opportunity to down a nice cold beer and watch the others sweat it out!

For me though, the achievement of the day was still being able to run at the end! But our best team achievement was that everyone felt it was fun and inclusive, which was the goal for our team.

Key takeaway…

I may have found an addiction and will be signing up for every tournament I can next year…

Chelsea Pronk (front, far left) with Team Zuid

Amsterdam Team Noord

Representing Amsterdam Team Noord is Natasha Staveley, 35, originally from Oxford, UK who works in talent acquisition at Uber.

Natasha Staveley

The makings of a tournament star…

I’ve been here a full year now, having moved to Amsterdam last November to work for a global bike sharing startup, building the operational teams across EMEA. Sadly, it ran out of money and the Amsterdam office closed, so I recently joined Uber doing a very similar role but with much less risk!

I joined the Amsterdam Netball club around April/May of this year, mainly for fitness and also to meet new people in Amsterdam. The club has totally delivered this and more; I have gotten fitter, better at netball and made some great friends along the way.

Tournament day…

I was so proud my team! Amsterdam Noord did so well. We made it into the intermediate group and went on to win 4 and lose 3. But most importantly we really pulled together as a team, encouraged each other, had loads of fun and experienced a few moments of greatness!

Tournament highlight…

This is an easy one…it has to be our win against Amsterdam Zuid. It was a great game…not that we are competitive ;). I really enjoyed the day. I was nervous with it being my first tournament and having not played since school, but now that I have one tournament under my belt, I’m looking forward to my next one!

Natasha Staveley (top, 2nd from left) with Team Noord

Amsterdam Team East

Representing Amsterdam Team East is Anna Rosenberg, 28, a history teacher, originally from Beverley in East Yorkshire, UK.

The makings of a tournament star…

Anna Rosenberg with her boyfriend Jack

I moved to Amsterdam to live with my boyfriend Jack. I had originally been moving to join him in Frankfurt where he had been for the past two years, but at the last minute in March of this year the plans changed and Amsterdam it was. It was the first time I have ever lived outside of the UK, so I was a little nervous about the move, but excited all the same.  So to date I have been here for three months now as I moved across early August.

I joined Amsterdam Netball as soon as I came across it and my first session was during trials, so I think I have been a with the club for 10-11 weeks now. The Amsterdam tournament was my first tournament.

Tournament day…

I was in Team East and we did very well in our group rounds and were put through to the Cup competition. We faced some tough opposition in that group but it just wasn’t our day; we won one, drew one and unfortunately lost against the others.

There are two personal netball highlights for me from the tournament. The first was our match against Team West. We were all a bit apprehensive about playing them as we train with them all the time and we know what a tough, dominant side they are. I was so proud of how East played. We fought every minute of that game and at times it was even a physical battle (Tash and Luce =)). Despite them coming out on top I was so proud that we kept them to by far their lowest score out of all the other teams they played in the group. This included keeping them to a lower score than other teams we had played and lost to. The second highlight was how East came together and supported each other throughout the day. It is always difficult heading towards a tournament in a brand new team knowing you only have a short time to get to grips with how each other works and plays. In the short time leading up to the tournament, East worked hard at each training session and despite our results not being as we would have liked, everyone kept motivating and pushing each other on and it was such a great team to be a part of.

Key takeaway…

I think my key takeaway would be to relax a bit more during tournaments and matches. I am incredibly competitive so was really wanting to push myself very hard to do the best I could for the team. I was also quite nervous about being one of the captains of the team, having only recently joined the club. I was worried about either making the wrong decision or upsetting people and that overshadowed my enjoyment at stages throughout the day. If I had to do it all over again I would try to relax and just enjoy the experience of playing in such a fantastic tournament with such fantastic people.

Final disclaimer…

I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to join the club. I love having a busy social life and it was so nerve wracking for me moving across not knowing anyone other than Jack and my friend Toby. I mean, who was I going to drink with and go out with??!!? And as much as I love Jack, I needed my own friends and Toby just did not need me asking to socialise with him 24/7. So joining the club and making such great pals straight from the off has made my life in Amsterdam what it is, a place I now call home. Cheesy as it sounds (and I know it does) there is no place at the moment that I would rather be living. I am having the most incredible time and it is because of the people I have met in this club. Thanks friends =)

Anna Rosenberg (top, 2nd from left) with Team East

By Blythe Forde

Blythe Forde is a member of Amsterdam Netball and regular content contributor.