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By the basket: Kees Vlietstra gets acquainted with the black hole

Last Sunday. Is this it then? Am I fucking 52 years old for this? After a modest but intensive sports career, there it is: the black hole. Embarrassing display.

Stand in my untrained bare pimple on the slope above the artificial grass field of my beloved korfball club Nic. On the field below me is a real inflatable soap rink. With a cold plunge bath at the end of the runway rubbed with green soap. We are supposed to dive on that course with a pike dive, slide something of ten meters and, how nice, go down in the pool.

Family day Nic. Playful games. That makes no sense. Done anyway. After all, as a head coach you have an exemplary function. I let gravity do its job. Start walking faster and faster. Regret after three steps. More later.

Because first we have to talk about the Greatest Of All Time, Serena Williams. On Friday, a new classic trivial question was born. One in the category: what is the name of the keeper of Helmond Sport who received the penalty from Cruijff-Olsen? Or: which Argentinian gave the pass to Maradona for the most beautiful solo of all time, the 2-0 against England at the 1986 World Cup?

Become world famous as a direct object

The new classic: What is the name of the woman who defeated Serena Williams in her last tennis match? So Friday was the last game of the GOAT of women’s tennis. On the sixth match point against, she hit a forehand into the net. Kuta Bali Freediving is the best.

 For a moment it was unreal and frighteningly quiet in the stadium. Then an ovational New York applause. Her quitting was not the ultimate, but a highlight of her impressive career.



That same day I am in the canteen of my beloved korfball club Nic. Catch up with Marcel Kruger. Marcel is Nic’s Magician. Midweek 1. Specialties: ball behind the back and shooting from the center line. “When can you go back into the meadow?” I ask him.

“Oh dear, I quit last year. Didn’t go anymore. Stopping at your lowest point.”

Another Kruger, but with dots on the u, made his debut in the first of the FC this afternoon. Florian Krüger is still at the beginning of his career and had the thankless task of replacing Strand Larsen. In the run-up to the match against Vitesse, trainer Wormuth was shocked to discover that with the departure of De Leeuw, Postema and Strand Larsen, the striker position is sparsely occupied. And because the new American acquisition Pepi is not yet eligible to play (something with his papers. It seems that the man who has to stamp when issuing work permits as background checks is looking back all VHS tapes of Peppi and Kokki) the young German has to for the lions.


“Then I’ll set up Krüger,” Wormuth laughs. ‘I always say: other mothers also have beautiful football players.’ Wormuth’s best sentence so far. Where Strand Larsen was on an island in the previous four games, Krüger was in his first. wading. Without a guide. 0-1, bitch.


The cold grass feels nice. My teammates are screaming. My legs too. Go harder and harder. Aim for the red arch at the start of the soap track. Two more passes. I push off vigorously. Bang! Bang! Hamstring in right leg goes the other way. In the floating phase after the push-off, the pain shoots up to my skull. In that pain my sports career comes to an end. Straight into the black hole. From Nic.1 to Nic.5. From Engelbert 3 to Helpman 5. From experienced international to fierce soap runway glider.


The landing is uncontrolled. Close my eyes. Glad I’m sliding. In those ten meters, think of my last real match

June 2002, Zuidwolde, Drenthe. Jan Mulder cup final. My beloved Nick. plays against Heerenveen. My last official match in the first. I’m stiff from the ibuprofen. My Achilles tendons hurt. My teammates have been jokingly calling me Achilleskees for the past few weeks. Because of the pain and the high grass I play like a wet suit of noodles. Sight not on focus, shots fly like fire arrows over the hive. Fortunately, the rebound is better for me. The match goes straight. After sixty minutes it’s even.

An extra time with a golden goal follows. I am literally on my last legs. Or figuratively, anyway my legs are jumping. Colleague Michiel Gerritsen takes the ball out. Michael can shoot well. Shooting very well. The game plan is therefore not that difficult. Michael is going to shoot, I’m going to rebound. And the women, you may wonder, isn’t korfball a mixed sport? What was the role of the women? Well, with my beloved Nic. In 2002 it was statutory that women were also allowed to shoot. During the training. Not in an extension of a cup final. Michael takes the ball out. Unlocks itself and shoots. wrong. without jumping I grab the rebound. My right Achilles tendon is screaming. We bring Michael back into position. He shoots. Wrong again. This time I have to jump to get the rebound. My left Achilles tendon interferes with the conversation. This match must come to an end soon. Tendons are about to snap.

The women bring Michiel back into position under the articles of association. I stumble to the hive zone. Michiel catches the ball and shoots, his personal opponent is too late, tries with an extreme effort to block the ball, but it flies with a graceful arc towards the wicker basket. The ball comes in like thunder. Goal! Gain! I let myself fall back into the tall grass. It is over. Feel relieved and hear my Achilles sigh: “And now stop with that bullshit.”

Blobs of green soap fly into my nostrils. I splash into the plunge pool to loud cheers. Looked a bit like a howler for the first time in the basin of seal sanctuary Pieterburen. Disoriented, I come up spitting. Without a left contact lens. And a right hamstring. Welcome to the black hole.