Earn The Orange – The Dutch National Team is officially back

The Dutch Lions, the official national team of the Netherlands, are officially back.

Over this past weekend, prospects gathered in Arnhem for the rebirth of the national team. The junior and senior teams started building the foundations for what is expected to be a very prosperous era within the Netherlands. Head coach Fred Armstrong as assembled an impressive coaching staff who were all on hand to assess the talent. Malik Jackson, former Raiders Tirol defensive coordinator, Leipzig Kings defensive back coach and current member of the Berlin Rebels coaching staff, was involved in supervising the units.

Malik Jackson

The 2021 ELF All-Star, Roedion Henrique along with Bart Hendricks will take the defensive backs, Dylan Bakker is responsible for the linebackers while Shaq Peters will coach the defensive line. Brian Spapens has tight ends and Wesley Kuils wide receivers. Veteran Emmanuel Lewis will coach the quarterbacks while Chantalle Huis and Geraldo Boldewijn will oversee as team manager and assistant head coach respectively. Dutch scout Robbert Drost will also assist Armstrong in the development of the team.

AFBN General Manager Johan Oosterhuis:

“As AFBN we are very excited that we are taking the right steps together with Coach Armstrong and his dedicated group of coaches. We are executing and making durable plans for the future. With the seniors, we will be competing in the European Championship 2024/2025, and we have our first game at the third weekend of October of this year. Poland is coming to the Netherlands. In the upcoming days, we will take the first actions on the organizational front, and we leave the technical side in the competent hands of Coach Armstrong. For our youth, we are just starting up and we have a good view of the current status of the players. We will put our effort into getting more kids involved and getting them excited about our Dutch Lions journey. Go Lions!”


Starting with the junior side, the team shows to be deep in talent in several positions. Defensive back is a point of interest for fans of the U19 international scene. The Netherlands are most likely going to be competing against local rivals Belgium and the recent IFAF-withdrawn Great Britain team in 2024. Joshua Lopes, Thayrancel Pinas and Xander Mathijse are just a few of the prospects that need to be on the watch list of academies and teams within Europe. The King’s Academy was also featured heavily. Little is known of them as of now, but they are somewhat of a Phoenix club of the Amsterdam Panthers. The caliber of athletes in the Netherlands could help the academy in the future to be built up like RIG in Sweden if they continue to get experience and exposure through the national team.

HC Fred Armstrong directing a young hopeful through drills


The senior team also displays some seriously talented players. Tight end is a potential gold mine. Robin Merjenburgh, a Cologne Centurions recent signee, was a standout, showing the separation, ball skills and blocking of a premier European tight end. Joel Van Gelder is potentially a generational player at tight end also. Jason Denneboom and Dion Henrique are two stand-out corners and Samuel Bhoedjang is one of the best young receivers in Europe. Players who weren’t at the trial could be still involved as this was the first step in a large plan for the Netherlands‘ growth. Many ELF and German Football League players hold Dutch citizenship, which means that we could be seeing the start of a huge increase in the country’s reputation among the European ranks.

Fred Armstrong:

“Each player on the Junior and Senior teams will EARN THE ORANGE. There is no higher honor in any sport than playing or coaching for your country. The players who have passion and respect for that we want on the Dutch Lions.”

In summary

Overall, this is the most exciting time for Dutch American football in recent years. This national team could compete in 2024 given the number of players that have bought into the system and culture that Fred Armstrong and company have created. It’s certainly the country to watch most in 2024 given the future involvement from Will Shields and Wes Chandler as talked about earlier in the year.

Check out the podcast – Breaking down 5 players:

Photos: @caesarovic