Soccer Banter: What is your role with the KNVB?
Ruud Dokter: My current role is U16 men’s National Team Head Coach, National Staff Coach & Staff Instructor Coaching Education.
SB: How many times have you been to the US? Who did you work with?
RD: The first time was in 1976 and since 1993 I have been yearly twice or three times in the USA. Currently I work with the USSA Soccer Federation regarding coaching education and I have done this in the past as well. I have been many years a clinician at several conventions like NSCAA and at state level as well. Besides this I have been working with many clubs and soccer camps.
SB: What is your impression of the game in America?
RD: I have the impression that soccer in the USA has grown in structure and continuity. The level of the MLS has grown and the National (youth) Teams are performing increasingly.
SB: What aspect of the American game do you admire?
RD: My personal experience with the American players is very positive. They seem to be very coachable and never give up.
RD: Difficult to say because my impression is too limited on the American league and players.
SB: What do we as a country need to do to move to the next level?
RD: Investment in Coach Education. To improve the game the level of the coaches must be improved because coaches work with players. Key factor in development is also a challenging league at al levels and all age categories. That keeps the children motivated.
SB: How would MLS teams do in Holland?
RD: Again that is difficult to say for me. My impression that the top teams in league could easily join our premier league.
SB: Who is the next Dutch superstar?
RD: We have many young talented players who are on the threshold of professional soccer. But making the last step is the most difficult one. On the way to the top there are so many pitfalls which make predicting hard. However I can mention that 18 year old Adam Maher, from AZ Alkmaar (top of the table), is performing outstanding at this moment.
RD: We have many great young and ambitious coaches. I expect that we will hear in the near future from them. But at the moment coaches like Van Marwijk, Van Gaal, Hiddink, Rijkaard and Advocaat are great ambassadors of Dutch soccer.
SB: Holland is renowned for its level of player and coach development. What does Holland do that separates it from other countries?
RD: - A great infra-structure: in every small village or city there is a soccer club.
- The number of volunteers. Each club has many volunteers and without them it would be impossible to run the organization.
- Talent identification.
- The infra-structure of the leagues. We have leagues at all levels and for all age categories. From the age of 12 the best players play with each other and against each other.
- Coach education.
- A clear vision on the game.
SB: How important is youth development (U17 win v Germany) to the game in Holland?
RD: That is obviously very important. The federation puts a lot of energy in improvement and innovation regarding the above mentioned key elements in Dutch soccer. But we were very happy with the result of the U17. A great result and reward for the hard work of so many youth coaches in the Netherlands.