Resilient is the best way to describe Plein FC, a team made up of a diverse group of hardworking, rambunctious young men from Leiden University and THUAS with a passion for football. Last year, Plein lost 13 – 2 against ASC – one of the oldest recreational clubs in the Netherlands – which encouraged the team to practice harder. After a year of training, Plein won its first game of the season, a victorious 4 – 2 revenge against ASC. This dramatic transformation of Plein FC begs the question: what is the secret to their success?
“The major change… was that if you want to play for the team, then you have to get involved,” said Captain Arthur De Moubray. The players that stayed came to understand that “football is progress”, said Elias Schimkat, who plays center middle. He stated that the strength of the team came from knowing that they aren’t always going to be on top. Plein FC’s newfound success derives from their ability to take defeat as an opportunity to grow. Schimkat explained that “we adapted, we now play 3-5-2, and it works for us”. This means that the team plays with 3 players in the back playing defense, 5 in the middle and 2 in the front to attack. This is an attack-heavy line up as the focus of the team is in the middle and forward, opposed to the traditional four players in the back. While it is an unorthodox formation, the team’s daring approach helped them declare victory in their first game. Eventually, with all the adjustments, “the puzzle pieces fell into the right place” said Sam Maurer.
The team has come a long way since last year, and has gotten a lot stronger as a unit. Former player and Plein FC legend Issac Goodwin said Plein FC was “the best thing that ever happened to [him].” While technique is practiced on the pitch, the teambuilding does not end on the field. For a good time, the team enjoys listening to music in the dressing room and frequenting the local Hague bars together. Club Manager Sebastian Wright explained “enjoying ourselves and keeping it casual is the goal.” The team is not just a group of friends, nor is it just a student football team, it “basically is a big family,” said Maurer.
While the team recently lost 2-0 against Foreholte, they are not discouraged, as it is another chance to come back stronger. “We take defeat by talking to each other, analyzing the game” explained Moubray. But it is hard, Schimkat clarified, because some players don’t want to critique their teammates, in fear they’ll come across as “blaming” their mates. Thankfully, the season is not over yet, and the team has a lot more opportunities for victories and growth.
While these players might not be our future Messi or Ronaldo, they will be our future diplomats, politicians, entrepreneurs, academics and even pilots. Despite the ‘career’ change, the lessons they have learned on the pitch will not be lost. These players have learned how to be resilient, how to adapt, communicate and take constructive criticism. These valuable skills will continue on into their future career, even when they take off their cleats.
To support your local The Hague community, follow Plein FC on their Instagram and keep up with their documentary directed by Club Manager Sebastian Wright.
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Images from Plein FC
Their Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pleinfc/?hl=en