Kerkdijk: There's a real togetherness in our squad

Defender reflects on a tough season after signing new contract.

By Bruce Talbot • 05 June 2021

By Paul Hazlewood
Danique Kerkdijk has signed a new contract with Albion.

Danique Kerkdijk says the support of her Albion teammates helped her and the rest of the club’s European contingent cope with the issues thrown up by the pandemic.

Apart from when they went to international camps, Kerkdijk and fellow Holland international Inessa Kaagman as well as Cecilie Fiskerstrand (Norway), Emma Koivisto and Nora Heroum (Finland) and Ireland’s Megan Connolly and Rianna Jarrett were unable to return home to see families as often as they normally would.   

“It has been a tough season for the players from overseas,” said Kerkdijk, who signed a new one-year contract this week.

“I have only seen my family during international break, so it has been really difficult, but the other girls knew it was hard for us and he really supported us. They are a great bunch.

“It did help having Inessa [Kaagman] here and I went for coffee with Davy Propper a couple of times as well and he invited me to have dinner with his family. It’s always nice to have Dutch people around because we were all in the same situation, but it has been difficult for a lot of the players from Europe.”

Kerkdijk’s consistent defensive displays helped Albion finish sixth, their highest position in the Women’s Super League, and they are also through to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup where they face Charlton. They were also the only side to beat champions Chelsea in the league.

“I am really satisfied with how I played,” added Kerkdijk. I’m proud that my motivation throughout the season stayed really high.

“In the Chelsea game everything fitted together so well. It gave us so much confidence, they hadn’t been beaten for two years and it’s moments like that you work so hard for in training and in the gym. Luck was perhaps on our side that day, but we proved it wasn’t a fluke by winning the next three games as well – it was a massive turning point for us.

There is a real togetherness in our squad, it’s not just about the 11 players on the pitch. Everyone helps each other.

“Pretty much all season our defensive shape was so good, and we are so hard to beat so now is perhaps the time for us to improve how we are on the ball and to progress that way.”

Albion report back for pre-season training in mid-July and hope to move into their purpose-built training hub at the American Express Elite Performance Centre later in the summer.

But for now, the 25-year-old is planning a well-earned rest back at home in Holland.

“I’m looking forward to spending time with my family, lying around in the pool or the garden,” she said. “It’s a busy year ahead with the Euros in England next summer when I hope my experience in the WSL and playing here will help me.”