Friday, 16 August 2013 6:13 PM
The ninth edition of the Hyundai A-League will have more than a tinge of Oranje to it.
Four Dutch defenders in Marcel Seip (Central Coast Mariners), Rob Wielaert (Melbourne Heart), Kew Jaliens (Newcastle Jets) and Pascal Bosschaart (Sydney FC) will all feature in the competition this season and it appears that 2012-13 Grand Final winner Patrick Zwaanswijk might have had a little to do with it.
Now 38, Zwaanswijk took the opportunity to play his last seasons down under and believes it was one of the best decisions of a career that included playing over 300 matches in the Dutch Eredivisie.
After retiring on top at the end of last season, the Dutchman has taken up a role as a coach for the Mariners and is excited to see many of his compatriots following his footsteps to play in Australia.
“It has been great that a host of Dutchman have come out here to play in the A-League and to be acknowledged as having played a role in that is great,” said Zwaanswijk.
“It is nice to know that Dutch footballers and the way we play is respected around the world.”
Zwaanswijk headed to Australia after Mariners head coach Graham Arnold got in touch with him and told him of the opportunity to play in a league that was on the way up.
“Arnie informed me of the opportunity to come out here to play for a year and I played three seasons.
“He outlined to me that he wanted me to be a mentor to the juniors coming through which I thought was also a great opportunity for me personally.”
Having helped usher through a number of young guns at the Mariners, Zwaanswijk is hoping his countrymen will do the same.
“Australia is a great country to live in and I think it is great for Australian football that the Dutch are heading out.
“I believe that each of these players has the opportunity to help pass on their experience at the highest level and what they have learnt from some of the world’s best coaches to young Australians so that their level of play continues to increase as it has been doing.
“The ultimate goal would be to see more and more Australians running around at the top as a result of them reaching the same level of play as the foreigners that are coming in.”
With a more intimate knowledge than most of the newly arrived Seip, Jaliens and Wielaert, Zwaanswijk believes that they will have a big impact on the upcoming season.
“I played against most of the Dutch defenders that have made their way to Australia and they all have their own story and their own style of play.
“Marcel has just arrived at our club and he is fitting in really well.
“He is getting use to the coaches and the style of play but he already loves being here and is looking forward to playing that all important mentor role at the club.”
Still in touch with many of his football mates back home, the Dutchman has praised the progress of the A-League to many of his compatriots from his home land.
“I’ve spoken to a lot of players in Holland about the A-League, how it is growing and the number of marquee foreign players that are coming out.
“I’ve told them that the game is going to continue to grow and grow although we probably don’t need any more Dutchman now as there is almost one at each club.”
Having now taking up a permanent role on the bench alongside Arnold, Zwaanswijk is keen to both learn and continue to pass on his knowledge in his new role.
“It is beautiful not to have to train as much anymore,” he said with a chuckle.
“I am enjoying being alongside Arnie, Andrew Clark and Phil Moss and beginning to learn what it takes to coach at the top level.
“I am now hoping to help continue to do what we have done at the Mariners for the past few years and that is to produce good players.
“I hope I can become as good a coach as I was a player.”