Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Rijsdijk brings talent, teamwork from Netherlands

Nearly 5,000 miles from her native country, Pia Rijsdijk can say she’s pretty far from home. Born and raised in the Netherlands, Rijsdijk left it all behind to further her soccer career in the United States.

“Before I came to Alabama, I had never been to the United States before. It was actually my first time,” Rijsdijk said. “My first U.S. experience was my first Alabama experience, so it was something special.”

The junior said the change of scenery wasn’t as hard as many would think.

“I wasn’t very shocked, but the culture is very different,” Rijsdijk said. “My team really pulled me in and helped me get adjusted to it. I had a lot of support from them making me feel at home.”

Before Rijsdijk came to Alabama, the Numansdorp, Netherlands native was on the Dutch U-19 team when Bramble saw her play.

“[Bramble] was the only one from the U.S. that had interest in me as far as that year because I wasn’t putting myself out there,” Rijsdijk said. “Alabama was the only option to go play in the U.S., and I really liked the way that he approached me and talked to me. He really showed interest. And I said to myself, ‘Why not? It’s a great opportunity, I’m just going to go for it and see what happens.’”

Bramble traveled all the way to the Netherlands to see Rijsdijk play.

“I think it’s always good to go meet an international player on their home turf,” Bramble said. “It shows them the level of commitment you have in them as a person.”

Rijsdijk had more than just a soccer career back home. Unlike most soccer players who start out playing as small children, Rijsdijk didn’t play soccer until she was 12 years old. Instead, she was playing volleyball until a scout saw her talent on a side field.

“I was playing volleyball in a school tournament, and I enjoyed playing soccer in a local field, and a scout came up to me and asked, ‘Do you play soccer?’ and I said, ‘No, volleyball,’” Rijsdijk said. “He was like, ‘Woah, really? You should really join a club and play soccer because you are a talented player.’”

When Rijsdijk was 17 years old, she had the opportunity of a lifetime to play for a talented team in Amsterdam. Even at a young age, she decided to leave home and live independently. Rijsdijk said her decision to start her soccer career has constantly helped her while in college, which makes being far away from home that much easier.

“I moved out [when I was 17] and got to live on my own for two years until I was 19,” Rijsdijk said. “And then I got to make the decision to come Alabama. Being on my own for two years really helped me be independent.”

More to Discover