New book produces a vivid picture of girls who play football

22 May 2017

The first copy of the book ‘Meidenvoetbal in 14 verhalen’ [‘Girls’ football in 14 stories’] was presented by Merel van Dongen, who plays football for Ajax and the Dutch national team, to Mariken Leurs, the Deputy Director of Sport at the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport at the Utrecht football stadium Galgenwaard. The book stems from the project ‘From footballers’ wives to women’s football’ [Van voetbalvrouwen tot vrouwenvoetbal] by Professor of Philosophy, Martine Prange. She is conducting research with funding from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) from its Sport programme.

Prange during a KFC match (player in the seasons 1989-1991). Photo Martine Prange ( during a KFC match (player in the seasons 1989-1991). Photo Martine Prange (

The book, ‘Meidenvoetbal in 14 verhalen’The book, ‘Meidenvoetbal in 14 verhalen’

The book was edited by the researchers Martine Prange – a former player in the Dutch national team – and the cultural anthropologist, Martijn Oosterbaan. It is intended for the general public and especially to kindle the enthusiasm of young girls for women’s football. The Johan Cruyff Foundation organised the book presentation.

Girls’ and women’s football is the fastest growing sport in the world. It is growing spectacularly in the Netherlands too. But who are these girls playing football on the street, on local pitches and in stadiums? Dutch football, the ‘Dutch school’ is based on agility and intelligence rather than strength. That is what players learn on the street. So what about the girls who play football? And what are they contributing to the Dutch football culture? ‘Meidenvoetbal in 14 verhalen’ gives the current transformation taking place in Dutch football – from being the bastion of boys and men to being a sport for everyone – a face.

Societal impact of women’s football

Martine Prange examined the societal impact of women’s football in the Netherlands in her research project, in particular against the background of the history of women’s football. Prange started her academic career as an assistant professor in philosophy at Leiden University and she has been a full professor at Tilburg University for some time now. In the past, Prange studied Immanuel Kant’s conflict theory, which argues that people need conflicts in order to grow, push back boundaries, solve problems and move on. Prange has now translated this philosophy to modern-day women’s football.

Prange: ‘Sport is a ‘creative conflict’. What is happening on the football pitch is a trial of strength between the opponents. Football has always been a men’s sport. That is now gradually changing. What does this acceptance on the pitch mean for the development of talented girls? What does it say about our society and emancipation in the Netherlands if girls are still having to fight for acceptance and their place on the football pitch?

Martine Prange’s research has produced new knowledge about the significance of sport – and football in particular – in the development of talent and the integration of girls with Dutch ethnicity and girls with an immigration background. It provides policy recommendations for football and other sports associations, women’s organisations and sports-related companies. In addition, the book ‘Meidenvoetbal in 14 verhalen’ is a good example of the way in which scientific research can convey knowledge to the general public in comprehensible language.

The book costs €14.99 in bookstores.

Source: NWO