Haasrode Leuven stops with women’s team at the highest level after disappointing results: “This is the most difficult decision we ever made”

Volley-ball League A (v)

The women of Haasrode Leuven in an archive image. They would now consider keeping a team running themselves. — © Well

Haasrode/Leuven

A bomb in Leuven women’s volleyball. After two years at the highest level, the board of Haasrode Leuven is pulling the plug on its first women’s team. The reason: disappointing results and a difficult search for new players. “Our team is being held hostage at the highest level,” he said.

Hannelore Smitz and Ruben Valgaerts

The only club in Belgium with a team at the highest level for both men and women. Haasrode Leuven was always proud of it. But playing at the highest level turns out not to be everything. The results must also be there. And they didn’t happen. In the two years that they played in Liga A, the VHL women could only win one match. This season they lost all eleven games. The team could only win one set, compared to 33 lost sets. This has led to the board pulling the plug on the team at the end of this season. The players were told this on Monday, and it has now been officially confirmed by the club management. “It was the most difficult decision I had to make in my career,” says general manager Roland Thonnon. “We did not take any chances and looked at different scenarios. The most important thing for us was to be able to write a beautiful story in the long term.”

Fish in the same pond

The board no longer saw that beautiful story in the first team. “The facts are what they are. The results were disappointing both last season and this season. We also fail to find players who can raise the level. All teams fish in the same pond and the talents go to the better teams every time. You can turn abroad, but is it worth it?”, says Thonnon.

Despite the weak results, there was no threat of relegation. “Because Genk already forfeited at the start of the season this year, we are being held ‘hostage’ in Liga A,” says Thonnon. The situation is therefore at an impasse, and the board sees no other way out than throwing in the towel itself. “We made this choice to be able to rebuild a women’s team that can reach the top in the first national competition step by step. We have a good youth team with a team in national 2. There is a good foundation there. We want to strengthen that team so that we can play in Liga A again in the long term.”

Still hope?

The news of the stoppage hit players and trainers hard. Most could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. There is hope in the corridors. The players would see for themselves where their future lies, and even consider running a team themselves. The club also gives them the opportunity to move down to the current second team.

Assistant coach Mira Juwet. “I can say that there was some disbelief about the decision. The players didn’t see it coming and don’t want to just give up.” — © Geert Tresignie

Mira Juwet, current assistant coach and player at VHL for many years, was reachable. She reacts nostalgically to the decision. “I played with the team for five years and experienced many great moments. I still remember a match against Tchalou. They could come and play champions with us, but we sent them home with a dry 3-0. I am still very close to the group and can say that there was some disbelief about the decision. The players didn’t see it coming and don’t want to just give up.”

Here and there it also sounds that the team has been disbanded in order to invest more money in the men’s team. This is formally denied by the board. “This decision is solely based on sporting considerations,” said Thonnon.

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