Total Footballer

AFW caught up with New Zealand international Marlies Oostdam about playing in the Westfield W-League.

Melbourne Victory-s multinational defender MARLIES OOSTDAM has taken a long path playing football around the world to finally score a place in the Westfield W-League

You-re a Dutch-born New Zealander - how did you end up in the W-League?

I lived in Melbourne in 2000, played football while I was here then stayed in touch with some of the girls afterwards. Just before I went away to the Olympics, Bubs (Melissa Barbieri) got in touch with me and asked me if I-d be interested in playing in the W-League and it kind of went from there.

Are you enjoying the experience?

I-m loving it. It-s great to be back in Melbourne. Just the whole change: change in style of play, different people. It-s a good experience and a great level to be regularly playing at.

You had quite a bit of success in club football in NZ; does the Westfield W-League differ from what you are used to?

It-s just that little bit more professional over here, and there is more choice. There are so many more players to pick from. The love for the game, too, is huge - people just really get behind and support the club.

Victory had a great turn out for their inaugural game at Telstra Dome. Is it a shame you can-t make it your fortress?

It was fantastic. Unfortunately it was our only game there; all our home games from now are going to be at other stadiums. I think they did want to get a few more games for us at Telstra Dome, but it just didn-t work out.

It-s a happy hunting ground for you - the first ever goal for the side; not bad for a defender.

Yeah, I didn-t expect that! Playing at the back I thought I might be able to get an assist… It was awesome, a real buzz. It didn-t really hit me until after that it was the first goal.

Does training on Astroturf make it a little bit difficult when you take the field in a match?

We train at the Football Federation Victoria training grounds on Astroturf. Astroturf is really quick so you have to hold back on your passes and on grass you have to put a bit more into it. At times at the Telstra Dome we found we were under-hitting our passes [laughs].

You went to both the FIFA Women-s World Cup and the Olympics with New Zealand. Which tournament meant the most?

In football terms, it was the World Cup because that really is the pinnacle of our sport. The Olympics is one of those events you just don-t think you will ever be at, even when we were in the (Olympic) village, we were looking at all these people saying, “Wow, look at them, they-re Olympians...” In the end, we were probably a bit overawed by the whole experience.

You were born in Holland, the home of “total football”; did you start playing there?

I lived in Holland ‘til I was 10 and pretty much my whole family played. As soon as I could walk, I started playing with the boys. I went back for about five years after I left Melbourne and played, though not professionally. The Dutch are a bit more technically gifted than some other countries, but at the same time I think the New Zealand or Australian women could give them a run for their money... Women-s football is nowhere as big as the men-s [in Holland] and women struggle to qualify, especially competing against teams from Germany or Scandinavia.