Zeist (Netherlands) (AFP) – After helping the Netherlands reach the women’s Euro quarter-finals, Vivianne Miedema barely stretched during training the next day, but a crowd of orange-clad onlookers greeted her loudly all the same.
The applause was much louder on Monday, when the 21-year-old striker was leaving the pitch 86 minutes into the Netherlands’ 2-1 victory over Belgium that earned the hosts a quarter-final clash against Sweden.
“It gives you so much energy, you come to the games and there are so many people, even in the cities, you just see people everywhere,” Miedema told AFP after three group games at sold-out stadiums.
“It’s such a positive thing for us,” added the new Arsenal Ladies acquisition, having signed for the English club in May after three seasons at Bayern Munich.
“It was cool because it was at home but it was a derby as well,” she said of the clash against neighbours Belgium.
“It’s always special to play against Belgium and I don’t know how many people were there, but a lot of Belgium supporters as well. It was just a great game.”
At the same time, she said the tournament had provided a boost to women’s football in the Netherlands, which is already the fastest-growing sport there.
“It grows a lot and after the Euros it will be better. It feels special to play in front of 12 or 13 thousand people every single game,” Miedema said.
“So many girls have started to play already and I think lots of girls just want to go and start playing. It’s good for the future.”
Miedema took up football at age five, following the example of her father.
She moved to Bayern in 2014 after three years at SC Heerenveen in the Dutch league.
“I’ve had three amazing years in Germany but I just wanted to have something else,” she said about her move to Arsenal.
“I just had a good feeling with Arsenal and I talked with the coach a lot and the way he wants to play fits me I think and I can’t wait to start there.”
Since her national team debut in 2013, Miedema averaged well over a goal every other game.
In the last edition of the women’s Champions League, she finished joint-top scorer alongside Wolfsburg’s Zsanett Jakabfi with eight goals from as many games.
“It’s easy for me (to score) because I have both feet, left and right, and that just makes it easy because you can turn your way,” said Miedema.
“If you have a chance, like a little gap, you should always shoot.”
She hasn’t scored yet at the European Championship, with Sherida Spitse, Lieke Martens and Shanice van de Sanden stepping in so far, but that does not bother her.
“I have a different role, you see every single game I have two or three players around me, but it just gives us more space on the wings,” Miedema said.
“We’re doing fine and I’m playing fine so I feel fine and the goal will come I guess.”