“The outside world doesn’t need to know what you’ve been through”
Frederic Matla played her 92nd international match against the United States on Saturday. She was wearing the captain’s insignia for the first time. With red, white, and blue on her right leg, she led the orange woman to a simple 3-0 win.
“I can say that it doesn’t bother me, and that I don’t appreciate him very much, but it was great to be captain of the Orange team today,” Matla admitted after the Pro League game. “I’m proud of that,” she added with a smile.
The first, with the same smile, entered the Wagner Stadium, which was occupied by three thousand people, on Saturday evening, at about six. This was really new to her. “I’m usually always at the back of the line.” To add with a wink: “From now on I might do that with all my walking exercises, haha.”
Matla wore the captain’s armband on Saturday because captain Eva de Guede was out for a long time with a knee injury. Matla: We are now looking into everything because of what happened. Including the role of captain. Today it’s my turn, and tomorrow it’s someone else’s turn (Pien Sanders, editor). I stay true to myself whether I wear the band or not. I think that’s also important for the team at this point.
“This phase” is the period that began last year after winning the Olympics with a group of international players making it clear to the hockey association that they feel dissatisfied and insecure with the performance culture within the Orange Women’s team. The union stepped in and ordered an independent investigation, among other things.
The results of that investigation appeared last week in a hot report, which made it clear that much had been wrong in the past. The ambitions and will to win have been so great within the team in recent years that a “blind spot” arose for the players’ welfare. One conclusion was that relational and emotional conflicts and mental health problems were not observed within the team. “Players and staff also began to show modified behavior due to cultural characteristics, selection pressure, sporting ambition and fear due to harmful/mysterious interactions,” said national coach Alison Annan, who has since departed.
The results of the investigation were discussed with the players last week. “I think the report is illuminating,” Matla says. It’s nice to be written in black and white about what happened. The report is still fairly generic, although of course it does reflect the burden behind us. We know exactly what was going on, but these examples were not given.
These examples were not included in the report, and Orange International companies keep their place out of the limelight in interviews. Matla explains: “People are really hurt. Then we go back many years to very recently. The moment we start giving examples, it becomes personal and with the people who suffered from it, it all comes back – even without mentioning them by name. We want to protect them from that.
You can also choose to share your experiences?
I admit that I, too, have shown modified behaviour. But I don’t feel the need to put my role in the process on the table. I want to keep this feeling to myself and not share it. The outside world doesn’t need to know what you’ve been through. If other players need it, they should. I don’t think anyone would do that. Also to protect themselves. It’s too early for that now. Perhaps in the long run there will be room for players to do so.
Do you feel that the report recognizes you?
It is a kind of recognition. But just using the word acknowledgment is not enough for us. As a team, as workers and also as an association, we all have to take a critical look in the mirror and admit what we’ve missed and what we’ve done wrong? This is necessary to be able to continue.
How hard is it to focus on hockey with all these risks?
“We’ve talked a lot lately. But there’s also the World Cup coming up, which means we have to look more at hockey step-by-step. We do it in some phases more than others. We said last week after Wednesday: We’ll play hockey. And if something happens, we’re going to play hockey.” We can talk about it. In the near future we have to find a balance. Should we see when we can leave the rest behind and focus entirely on hockey. But we’re not there yet.
I “just” won 3-0 against the USA today and didn’t score. Did you enjoy playing today?
“Today, score and scoring played a lesser role. I enjoyed being on the field with my teammates and wearing the band as well. Overall it was a lovely evening.
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