Moving to Amsterdam at 15 for basketball? Check. Playing for the Dutch National Team? Check. Getting a medal at the (Youth) Olympics? Check. Charlotte van Kleef is only 20-years-old, played for three different teams in the VBL, and has already done and achieved all of the above.
1. How did you come in contact with basketball?
I started playing basketball when I was eleven years old, because I wanted to play a team sports. My parents were both very good basketball players, and that is why I wanted to try it as well.
2. Is everyone in your family playing sports at a high level?
As I said before, my parents both played basketball at a high level. Furthermore, I have two brothers who also play sports at a very high level, one of them does Judo and my other brother is a short tracker.
3.What is the best (basketball)tip that your parents have ever given you?
If you really want to do something, it is possible! You just have to want it enough.
4. How do you prepare for a game?
The day before and the day of the game, I like to shoot a lot. Furthermore, I eat a balanced meal and I always take another look at all of our plays on paper, or walk through them in my head.
5. What is your favorite basketball memory?
That would be the silver medal I earned on the Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China, together with Esther Fokke, Fleur Kuijt and Janis Boonstra. We played 3×3 and lost in the final against the USA, but just playing this final was a great experience.
6. How did you experience moving to Amsterdam by yourself at the age of 15?
It was a really big step, but I have never had any regrets. I spend a lot of time with my teammates at home and at school. I was never alone and the staff of the CTO helped me a lot.
7. Why did you choose to go to the CTO?
I chose the CTO, because I want to be the best version of myself that I can be. Not only in basketball, but also for my career and social skills. With CTO Amsterdam I became a better basketball player, but I also got the possibility to finish my HBO degree next to my sports career. Besides that, I met a lot of new people and made friends for life.
8.Can you describe a normal day at CTO?
You get up at 6:30. The first morning practice is from 7:30 until 9:00. During this practice, you mostly work on your physical strength and your individual skills. After that, you go straight through to school. The school day lasts until four or five, that depends on what time the practice starts. This time, it is a team practice, where you work on your fundamentals and your tactical abilities on the court. The practice is followed by dinner, which we eat in the gym, and then we return to the apartment. Then, you do your homework and go to bed.
9. What is the most important thing you learned at the CTO?
One of the most important things I learned is planning. I had to plan a lot during my time at CTO. I practiced twice a day and in the weekend I had one or two games. Besides that, the first year at CTO, I was in my last year of high school and after that I studied at the HBO for four years. It was extremely important to plan my daily schedule.
10. Do you have ambition to play abroad?
I definitely want to play abroad. It was important to me to get a good degree, besides my basketball career. And I wanted that to be a Dutch degree. Now that I am done with my HBO, I would like to play abroad.
11. What is your greatest strength on the court?
I think my greatest strength is my shooting skills. I am quite tall and I shoot from high up, that is why I have more time than the average player to finish my shot.
12. Can you describe your playing style?
I like to play quick and make fast decisions.
13. How did you come in contact with 3×3?
My first real 3×3 tournament was the Youth Olympics. After this tournament, that can be clear, I was sold. I kept playing tournaments, because I think this version of basketball is very interesting.
14. How is 3×3 basketball different than 5×5 basketball?
I think that 5×5 is more tactical than 3×3. With 3×3 basketball, there is no possibilityfor a player to ‘hide’; there are only three players on the court and it is very important that everyone is active.
15. What are qualities a good 3×3 player needs to have?
I think that a good 3×3 player needs to be an all-round player. A good player needs to be able to drive to the basket, shoot and defend one-against-one on the outside and in the post. Besides that, a 3×3 players needs to understand the game so everyone can play smart.
16. Recently, you went to China with a 3×3 University team. Was this tournement different than the others?
Every tournament is different. This tournament was, as every other tournament, very professional. The difference was that there were only students. Of the court, we had a lot of contact with the other players. Our opponents practiced together at their university, but opposite to that, we had never practiced together.You have played basketball in several different countries.
17. You have played basketball in several different countries. How did you experience this and what is your favorite place?
Basketball has brought me to some great places. I think that it is fantastic that I can see so much of the world. In 3×3 basketball, you not only go to a certain country, but you also play basketball on a special location, and most of the time that is even outside. All the places I have visited are special in their own way, but I think Sri Lanka was one of the most special. Besides that, three times in China and once in Japan was quite special to me as well.
18.You have played for three different VBL teams. What is the biggest difference between those three clubs?
CTO Amsterdam is all about playing basketball at the highest level. Together with the staff, you work as hard as you can to become as good as you can be. You are at CTO to develop your own skills. Playing for Loon Lions reminded me of the club spirit. You are not only playing there to get better, but you are also playing for your club. Landsmeer lives for basketball. I enjoy seeing all those people (volunteers, players, parents, coach, referees and more) work really hard to get as much out of the club as possible. During my time in Bemmel, I was still young, but that is also a club where everyone works hard to get results.
19.What are your expectations for Landsmeer this season?
We have a very strong, experienced team and we have a tall team. I think we have to depend on our own strengths and use the experience and height of our players in our game. I have no idea who the most difficult opponent will be. Binnenland and Den Helder have strong teams this year, but Grasshoppers is also always difficult, and Lekdetec.nl is still working on their team. We will have to wait and see who will be the most difficult opponent.
20. You were selected to play the game against Hainaut Basket in the Eurocup with the Amsterdam Angels. How did you experience this?
We can learn a lot from these games as a team. The level in Europe is quite a bit higher than we are used to in the Netherlands. I think that it is good that as much girls as possible get the chance to experience these games. Hopefully, this will make the Dutch competition a bit stronger.
21.What does this mean for the development of Dutch basketball?
I think this is definitely good for Dutch basketball. The girls who play in the European competition will use their experience in the Dutch league, the European qualifiers and maybe even the youth European Championships. It is a good thing that those girls try to play on the same level in the VBL as they do in the Eurocup.
22.What do you want to improve this season?
I want to work on my physical strength this season. I am going to do a lot of weight training and I will keep on practicing my shot.
23. You have been to the Youth Olympics. Do you want to go to the ‘real’ Olympics?
That is my biggest dream for sure!
24. What is your ultimate goal?
My ultimate goal is to be of value in the Dutch National Team.