Interview with Laura Dijkema 🇳🇱 : “I find my inspiration in the fact that I want to make my family and friends proud”

 

Hi Laura!

Thanks for being part of the BeVolleyball Community!

 

How are you doing at this particular time? What is the volleyball situation overall in Russia?

I am doing fine, I am very happy that I can continue to play and do my job. There are so many people in the world that have to work at home, or even worse: cannot work. So I am happy to be able to play. In Russia we can continue to play, but almost every week there is another team in quarantine. So a lot of matches are rescheduled and postponed. I think that we’ll have a very busy schedule in the new year. We (with Lokomotiv Kaliningrad) were also for 14 days out of competition because of some positive tested teammates, so we still have to replay a lot of matches. I think this year is difficult for all the teams. I am following different leagues and you can see that a lot of teams are struggling. It’s hard to get in rhythm when you can’t practice with the whole team, can’t play every week, or have to go in quarantaine. It’s a big challenge for everyone, but in the end the most important thing is the health of everybody!

Everyone has a story, how your story started with volleyball?

I started to play volleyball when I was 7 years old. My older sister was already playing volleyball and I was joining her team a lot of times as a mascot ;-). When I was 7, I was old enough to start also. I was a very active kid, because besides volleyball I also played tennis, jazz-dance and played some music instruments. When I was 12 years old I broke my arm at school and after that recovery I could earlier start with volleyball then hold a racket with tennis… so that’s the time when I decided to continue to play volleyball. 

What do you like the most about playing volleyball?

I like the fact that it’s a team sport. I love the friendships I’ve made during my career with different people around the world! It’s so interesting to learn about different cultures. And of course I love to play the game, I love my position as a setter where the game is literally in my hands!

You are an experienced and talented player who has already played in many strong leagues in Europe. Could you share with us what is particular about these leagues and where you felt the best?

I’ve played in The Netherlands, Germany, Turkey, Italy and currently in Russia. When I was young I felt really comfortable in Germany. I learned to speak the language at school and the culture is very similar to Dutch culture. The Germans are famous for their “punktlichkeit” so everything is well organized. I think that this league is a good step for young players to get some international experience before they go to play in “bigger” leagues like Turkey, Italy, Poland and Russia. I’ve played only one year in Turkey (Ankara), but I had a great experience there. I think the top 4 teams in Turkey are really strong. Of course it was always a dream for me to play in Italy. In Italy I’ve played in Novara and Firenze. My first season was not easy, but we won the championship with Novara and the fans, and the way volleyball “lives” in Italy can still give me goosebumps. In Firenze I felt really at home and I was really blessed to live in the most beautiful city of Europe! In the beginning I had to get used to the Italian culture that having dinner takes soooo long… 😉 They eat a “primo” “secondi” and after also a “dolci” or coffee, and they really take the time. Now when I am used to it, I think it’s really nice to enjoy the good Italian food and have conversations with your teammates. At the moment I play in Russia and it’s a totally different experience. First I felt a little bit alone, because not a lot of people speak English. It was totally new for me that I couldn’t communicate very well with my teammates. Luckily I am starting to understand more Russian and my life is getting easier. I have a lot of respect for the Russian players, because traveling in this league is really crazy. All the flights and time differences… It’s like you are playing non-stop champions league! I think no other league in Europe is like this crazy with all the travels. I am sad that because of the covid-situation the arena cannot be fully packed like usual. We have an amazing fan club at Lokomotiv Kaliningrad and I really hope that I can experience this arena full with fans at the end of the season!

 

In all this time you played many games, winning titles and medals with both your clubs and The Netherlands NT. If you can choose what one moment you will always remember?

I think the moment that we qualified for the Olympics in Rio (2016) is the moment that I will always remember. The Olympics were always so far away and it seemed to be a dream that could never become true. But in 2016 we qualified and I really couldn’t believe it. I was so special!

What do you believe are the key attributes that a setter should have in order to be successful?

I think a setter should be a hard worker and calm in the mind. I think that the volleyball game is changing all the time, so you have to continue to work and improve your game. With the club teams you play (almost) every year with different attackers, so you have to work hard to find the best connection with your attackers. I think you have to stay calm in the mind, because you decide the game. If you get stressed, the whole game of your team will get stressed. 

Where do you find inspiration? Who inspires you?

I find my inspiration in the fact that I want to make my family and friends proud. I have to miss them so many time of the year, so I can better do good and make them proud!

 

Congrats on your initiative on funding your own brand XIV by Laura!

https://xivbylaura.nl/

We are aware Our Community and all your fans are following it and enjoying the nice designs. Could you tell us more about this amazing project?

Thanks! The idea started one year ago when I was with two friends talking and relaxing. I get a lot of messages of fans with the question if they can have my game-jersey or training shirts. Unfortunately, we are no soccer players that get a new jersey every game… 😉 So I decided that I want to give the fans something back! So, with my two friends Jorike and Irene, we started the brand XIV by Laura. XIV stands for my shirt number 14. I have always had a passion for fashion, so it’s really nice to design now things that I would like to wear also for myself!

 

Dankjewel, Laura!

 

-The BeVolleyball Team

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