74 - INSIDE BEACH SOCCER
GERT AND STEF
A BEACH SOCCER LOVE STORY LIFE TOGETHER ON AND OFF THE SAND
t is often said that beach soccer is like one big family and that is literally the case with Gert Oosterbroek and girlfriend Stef Saaltink, coach and captain of HTC Zwolle respectively.
It is a rare occurrence, not only in beach soccer but across sport, however, Gert and Stef were part of the Zwolle side that competed in the most recent Euro Winners Cup Catania, as the Dutch side finished ninth in the inaugural women’s competition. The coach and his skipper met around eight years ago as part of the HTC Zwolle football team, and have been together for around three of those years. In this beach soccer boy-meets-girl tale, Gert was the one to make the first move, aided by Stef’s sister, who gave him Stef’s phone number and encouraged him to call her. One day, after a training session, the team got together in Gert’s bar, and the rest, as they say, is history. With the relationship still going strong three years down the line and HTC Zwolle one of many European clubs enjoying the growth of the women´s game, life is good for Gert and Stef. But how do they cope in the team environment with jokes flying around the dressing room? “It is normal,” Gert told Beach Soccer Worldwide after seeing his side compete in their final group game in Sicily. “We do not really care about that sort of thing, as
we both like to take part in the jokes as well. They are always well-intentioned… we know that the girls are fully okay with the situation”. While relationships such as these may not be too common in sporting circles, family connections are prevalent across many disciplines, with highprofile examples prevalent in the likes of football and tennis. The question asked by many, in regard to this kind of situation, is surely there must be a hint of favouritism? But there´s no chance of that, according to the coach. Gert adds: “If she doesn’t train hard, if she is not good enough, then she will not be on the pitch for the next match.” Firm but fair. While their relationship does not impact team matters, Gert did acknowledge it can have an effect in the opposite direction, with disappointments and frustration on the sand sometimes creeping into home life. “She sometimes will go to bed without talking to me,” Gert says, when asked whether his other half can harbour a grudge. But, while the pair may have the occasional disagreement regarding Zwolle and beach soccer, they will always have at least one thing in common - their mutual football appreciation of all things Feyenoord...