Avital Selinger leaves Dutch women’s national team


Article Tue, Nov 8 2022

Avital Selinger has informed the Dutch Volleyball Federation (Nevobo) of his intention to step down from his role as head coach of the Dutch women’s national team. The 63-year-old coach has served out his contract, which ran up to and included the recently played World Championship. Selinger remains active at the national training centre Papendal as talent coach, a job he has so far combined with the national team.

After a second stint at the helm of the Dutch national team, Avital Selinger will focus solely on growing the next generation of talented players

Second term as head coach Dutch women’s team

On November 20, 2020, Avital Selinger was appointed for the second time as head coach of the Dutch women’s national team. The former setter of the Dutch men's team was previously head coach of the Dutch women between 2004 and 2011. Under his tenure, the team won gold at the World Grand Prix (2007) and silver at the European Championship (2009).

2021: good performance in Volleyball Nations League and at European Championship

In January 2020, the Dutch team failed to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics under the leadership of head coach Giovanni Caprara. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, there was no competition for the rest of that year, so the first international matches were played again in 2021.

In the 2021 Volleyball Nations League in Rimini, the Dutch team won their matches against Belgium, Russia, Thailand, Serbia, Japan, Poland, Canada, Italy, and South Korea, which resulted in a creditable seventh place.

At the European Championship 2021, the Netherlands finished fourth, behind the teams of Türkiye (bronze), Serbia (silver) and Italy (gold).

2022: difficult preparation for the World Championship on home soil

This year was all about the World Championship in The Netherlands, the largest volleyball event ever organised on Dutch soil. The run-up to the World Championship was not that smooth. Robin de Kruijf and Yvon Beliën, who played in the starting six for years as middle blockers, announced in February that they would stop playing for the national team.

When the Dutch squad started the Volleyball Nations League on June 1, Selinger was unable to use Nika Daalderop, Anne Buijs and Laura Dijkema for various reasons. Buijs and Dijkema returned to the team during the VNL, but Daalderop had to miss the entire tournament due to an injury and would only play her first full match a week before the start of the World Championship.

At the World Championship in the Netherlands, the squad playing in orange drew tens of thousands of spectators to the Gelredome stadium in Arnhem and Ahoy stadium in Rotterdam but was unable to achieve its goal of reaching the quarterfinals. After three solid victories over Kenya, Cameroon and Puerto Rico, the Netherlands lost 1-3 against Belgium in the first group stage, a crucial loss, because a good starting position for the second group stage was compromised. In the last match of the first group stage against European champions Italy, the Dutch team played at a high level at times but ended up being on the losing end.

In the second group stage, the Netherlands beat Argentina with excellent volleyball, and Selinger’s team played a wonderful, but also exhausting, high-level game against China, which they narrowly lost 3-2. The day after the battle against China, which lasted more than two hours, the home team had to take on the well-rested Brazil, which had meticulously analysed The Netherlands and defeated the Dutch 3-0. In the last World Championship match Japan was too strong too: 3-0. Multiple upsets against these higher-ranked teams were needed to reach the final eight, and despite the massive support from the Dutch audience, it was not possible to fulfil that dream.

“The challenge I took on with the team and staff at the end of 2020 was great, and I enjoyed it. The foundation for the long term has been laid, and I return to our training programme. It is important for the continuity of the women’s team that we keep investing in new players. The assignment I received ran up to and included the World Championship, and for me it’s enough now."

Avital Selinger

New players fitted in

When he was appointed in 2020 by then Nevobo Technical Director Joop Alberda, Selinger was given the task of accelerating the development of a number of Dutch talents, in order to allow them to join the national team. After the retirement of powerhouses such as Lonneke Slöetjes, and later Robin de Kruijf, Yvon Beliën and Maret Grothues, it was important to start building a new generation of Dutch top players.

Elles Dambrink, Fleur Savelkoel, Jolien Knollema and Florien Reesink all made the World Championship roster and can be seen as exponents of the accelerated training process.

Paris 2024 Olympics in sight

With a twelfth place on the world ranking, The Netherlands is still in the race to qualify for the Olympic Games in Paris in 2024. To qualify for Paris, the Netherlands will have to claim a ticket at the Olympic qualifier next year or improve a few positions on the world ranking before June 2024. The Nevobo is currently looking for a successor to Avital Selinger.