UTRECHT, July 15, 2017 - European football is coloured orange for the start of the UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 -- and not only all the promotional support for the tournament which the Dutch open against Norway.
Dutch captain Mandy van den Berg explained on the eve of the Opening Match here in Utrecht how the tone is being matched extremely close to home.
The defender from English club Reading said: "All people in the Netherlands are really excited. My parents made their whole house orange from the inside, so you can see that the tournament is really living in their hearts.”
As hosts, the Netherlands did not play the qualifiers and kept themselves busy with friendly games.
Van den Berg said: “Certainly the preparation was different. But we had a lot of top matches organised by the staff, so we still did a good job. It has been a long journey towards the tournament and now I think we are more than ready.”
The championship is being staged for the first time in Netherlands and enthusiasm is such that all Dutch matches in the group stage are sold out.
Van den Berg said: “That is very special to see. It says something about the development of our football that many more people want to come and see us play. It's a magical thing to think that tomorrow the stadium will be orange.”
Head coach Sarina Wiegman is also eager to see the tournament kick off.
She said: “The Netherlands is a soccer country. We want to make everyone enthusiastic for women’s football. We think we have prepared our players well, so they can perform in their best way. Undoubtedly, it is very special for all of us.”
Norway are testing opening opponents with a history of success in 1987 and 1993 as well as runners-up spot four years ago. They also progressed to the finals with seven wins and only one draw.
Hence Dutch captain Van den Berg expected a challenging game, saying: “Norway have a strong team and strong individual players as well. But that doesn't change anything about my preparation. It's going to be a really tough match but when you are at the top level you want to play against these type of players. “
She also hoped the tournament would encourage greater interest and support for women’s football in the Netherlands.
Van den Berg said: “I hope it's going to be positive. That means we can play attractive football and win games, hopefully, so it's going to have a big impact. Worldwide, women's football is growing and growing and in the Netherlands as well you can see how enthusiastic everyone is.
"Hopefully it's going to be really big."
Follow Simon Ecker on Twitter @simon_ec94