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Women will be able to play in senior men's teams in the Netherlands as of next season, the Dutch football federation have announced.
Mixed football has been in place in the Netherlands since 1986, with girls and boys able to play with and against one another up until the age 12.
This was then extended to older age groups within category B clubs in 1995 - before it was introduced to category A youth sides a year later.
However, the historic next step means female players can now also play in category A senior teams within amateur football in the country.
Een historische stap voor het amateurvoetbal: vanaf volgend seizoen kunnen vrouwen uitkomen in de A-categorie bij de mannen.
- KNVB (@KNVB) May 11, 2021
Commenting on the groundbreaking news, KNVB amateur football director Jan Dirk van der Zee said: "Until now, mixed football was possible in the entire youth in the Netherlands.
"However, as soon as women reached the senior age, they had to choose between playing in a women's league or continuing to play mixed in the B category.
"On the basis of recent research results, we no longer see any reason to stick to this and opt for equality and diversity.
"We want girls and women to find a suitable place in the football landscape based on their qualities and own ambitions."
Research included 19-year old Ellen Fokkema being granted permission to turn out for VV Foarut, who play in the fourth division, as part of a trial.
Well this is a historic day for soccer. @KNVB granted permission for a female player to join a senior men's team. Elle Fokkema will play for @vvFoarut during the 2020/21 season
- Jonathan Brannan :flag_black: :mask: (@jbrannan27) August 4, 2020
Fokkema has been with the club since she was five years of age and the request from both her and the club was given the seal of approval in August 2020.
"I've been playing with these guys since I was five and I was sorry that I wouldn't be able to play with them in a team next year," she told NL Times
"The KNVB always advised me to play with the boys for as long a possible, so why shouldn't it be possible? It is quite a challenge, but that only excites me more. I asked the club if something was possible and together we submitted the request to the KNVB.
"I dare not say how this will go, but I am very happy anyway that I can participate in this experiment."
Unfortunately because of the COVID-19 pandemic, amateur football in the Netherlands was cancelled after just seven fixtures and so the pilot was short-lived.
But the consensus was so strong that eligible clubs that wish to can now have a female player in their men's side starting from the 2021/22 campaign.
KNVB say they will provide support, advice and tools to the clubs and players.
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