Maurice Verbakel | Delft Blues & AFL Netherland President
11 July 2019
A student exchange program in Whyalla, South Australia is where Maurice Verbakel was first introduced to the sport of Australian Football. He quickly fell in love with the sport and the rest is a fantastic journey that sees Maurice as the current AFL Netherlands President.
In Whyalla, footy is life. So it is no surprise that Maurice threw himself into Australian Football and the community that surrounded the South Whyalla Demons Football Club.
“It was so original and has such a different gameplay that felt so more attractive.”
Upon returning to the Netherlands, Maurice contacted local cricket clubs and even AFL contacts back in Australia, only to learn that the sport was not played in the Netherlands. Things changed for Maurice in 2013 when reviewing AFL activities in Australia, he came across a couple of guys organizing Australian Football training in Amsterdam. Maurice attended training, watched a friendly match and had no hesitation to sign up and participate.
“Having met these expats years later playing the game here was like a dream come true.”
The sport in the Netherlands is the 9-a-side version, differing from the 18-a-side games that Maurice was playing in Australia, however many elements of the game remain that Maurice fell in love with whilst playing in Australia.
“It can be a fast game with not too many protocols or rules that makes it a very attractive game to play. With these aspects it gives more room to focus on tactics and its gameplay. I also love it that you can really put your body into it where the going gets tough, and afterwards the social reward of having a beer and a BBQ with the opposition team looking back to the game.”
Once Maurice got involved with Australian Football in the Netherlands, he then turned his attention to growing the game to give more opportunities for Dutch people to get involved. Maurice joined the Board of AFL Netherlands and was involved with the AFL Europe Champions League set up in Amsterdam, which has gone on to be a huge success for both AFL Netherlands and AFL Europe. Two years ago, Maurice set up the Delft Blues Football Club, designed their fantastic jersey and is now the President of AFL Netherlands.
It’s been a great journey for Maurice, who really sees growth potential for the sport in the Netherlands.
“AFL has everything in itself as an attractive and entertaining sport whether it’s for men, women or youth. So with those ingredients of being a fun sport and the social connectivity that comes with it I foresee that more and more people could learn this game and enjoy playing it. So when it comes to what the future holds I would really love to see more players and more clubs in the future and grow the game.”
The social connectivity that you get with Australian Football is one of the key elements of the sport that Maurice enjoys the most. In 2015 Maurice complete the Three Peaks Challenge with four mates from the footy club and more recently in 2017 climbed Mount Kilimanjaro five mates from footy.
“Never in my life have I met so many nice international people, not only Aussies, while playing Australian Football here in the Netherlands whom I am able to call friends. For me that is the most rewarding part in this game.”
A special thanks to Spike TV for helping grow the game in The Netherlands.