Australia

The Dutch Football Association used to hand out fines to clubs that allowed women to play

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World Cup Fans looks at some of the nations competing in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, through the eyes of their fans in Australia.

They're known as the 'Orange Army' - always cheering and hoping the Netherlands will one day be crowned champions of world football.

After the men lost the showpiece events in 1974, 1978 and 2010 - it's the turn of the Dutch women's team to try and deliver what would be a historic World Cup victory. 

Dutch fans
Dutch fans in Sydney getting in the mood for the Women's World Cup.
John Baldock - SBS

Pieter van Rijn is the proprietor of Una's - a well known Sydney restaurant that has for years been a focal point for the Dutch and wider European community to gather.  

"For most Dutch people, football is the main sport that binds us together," he told SBS News.

"And [it] brings sometimes the best and sometimes the not so good things out of us."

Enjoying some homespun entertainment
The community regularly come together for matches and cultural celebrations.
John Baldock - SBS

Through an online group called Dutchlink, members of Syndey's Dutch community regularly arrange to gather together for big football matches and significant days such as Kings Day - a similar celebration to Australia Day on 27 April. 

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Meet the FIFA Women’s World Cup fans: Netherlands
Meet the FIFA Women’s World Cup fans: Netherlands

Women once banned

More than 2,000 clubs in the Netherlands now have one or more women’s and girls’ teams participating in competition football - but the country wasn't always as supportive of gender equality. 

Annette Vervoort, a Dutch woman living in Sydney, grew up playing hockey because there was little alternative back then. 

Annette Vervoort and Annerie van Maarschalkerweerd
Annette Vervoort and Annerie van Maarschalkerweerd remember when women playing football was not an option in the Netherlands.
John Baldock - SBS

"When I started playing sport in the 1970s there was no soccer, so I chose hockey because there was nothing available - it was only men’s sport."

These days, hockey has been overtaken by football in terms of women's participation, with Worldwide, 29 million girls and women play the game internationally. 

Gone too, are the days of the Dutch Football Association, known as the KNVB, handing out fines to clubs that allowed women to play the World Game are long gone.

"Women can [now] play in Liverpool or Manchester United, in Spain or in Italy, so there’s all these big leagues now for women to make a job out of the sport."

The Netherlands
The Netherlands taking on Chile in April.
Getty Images Europe

That rise helped the Netherland's be crowned Women's European Champions in 2017, and hopes are now rising for the "Orange Lionesses" ahead of the World Cup in France. 

If they go all the way, those from the country renowned for liking a party won't let Australia down, says restauraunt owner Van Rijn. 

Pieter van Rijn behind his bar upstairs at Una's
Pieter van Rijn turned Una's into a little Netherlands with scarves, flags and memorabilia.
John Baldock - SBS

"We don’t need much to start a party, I think it’d be a huge achievement.  It will be great for women’s soccer in Holland and it will be important for us because we win something big in football."

The Netherlands will have to do well against Cameroon and Canada, after first facing New Zealand on 11 June.

The 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup takes place in France, 7 June-7 July.

Read more news from the Women's World Cup and see the rest of the stories in the World Cup Fans series.  

SBS will offer all Matildas matches, the opening game, the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final live, free and in HD. All SBS games will also be live streamed on The World Game website and app.

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