She became a figurehead of Grasshoppers in Katwijk, basketball lives in her family and she won a bronze medal at the FIBA women’s European Championships U20 in 2015. Fleur Kuijt became an exponential talent in the Netherlands!
Introduce yourself; Who’s Fleur Kuijt?
Well my name is Fleur, I am 21 years old. Right now I am playing for Grasshoppers in Katwijk, just like my sisters Sonja and Ilse do. Both my parents and my cousins played basketball, and I have always played for the Dutch national (youth)team(s).
At what age did you start playing basketball?
I think I was seven years old when I started playing basketball. At first I liked to swim and I used to do gymnastics before I started to play basketball.
Why is basketball your favorite sport? What kind of feeling do you get when you play basketball?
I can put my whole energy, frustration and other kind of (positive) emotions from the whole week in this sport. Especially the meaning of teamsport is something that makes me want to play basketball every time I can. I love to play with my teammates and also what we can achieve as a team.
What kind of player are you?
I play as a guard, so I can bring up the ball and guide my teammates all over the court. Besides, with a length of 1m78 I am pretty tall for a guard, which means that I am taller than my opponent most of the time.
What makes you a different players than your sisters, Karin Kuijt, Sonja Kuijt and Ilse Kuijt?
Oehh, that’s quite difficult to say. I guess Sonja and Ilse have another style of basketball than me. Sonja is a sharpshooter who can make threes after threes, Ilse is more like an athletic player and Karin is more all-round. I think I can motivate my teammates really fast, I think that’s my special ability.
Where did you play basketball before Grasshoppers? Or is Grasshoppers the only team you have played for?
Haha yes, Grasshoppers is the only team I have played so far!
No way, only Grasshoppers? What makes this organization so fantastic to make you stay here?
I have always loved here. I play with a lot of passion here, know my teammates well and all the people I have known for a long time. So why would I leave this place when I feel amazing in here, don’t you think?
Besides basketball, what are your other hobbies?
I like to relax when I have nothing to do. I put a lot of time in my education at the Pabo and I like to be with my family. So for me it’s studying and playing basketball.
Are there people who inspire you?
Well my sisters and the rest of my family are the people I look up to. For example what Karin have achieved for playing in Germany.
Is there something you want to improve within your style of basketball?
I would like to be quicker in the defense, or be more athletic like Ilse is. If I had to make a choice than I really want to be more athletic.
Since when have you played in the highest league of the Netherlands?
Let me think, I guess I was 15 years old when I started. So that must be since season 2012-2013. I played with Marlous Nieuwveen, Natalie van den Adel, so I came in as the new kid. At first, it was pretty heavy, but I have learned a lot. Karin left Grasshoppers so I was her substitute. I think that what I learned in those years made me this far in the competition.
You’ve been playing at Grasshoppers Dames 1 for almost six years. Do you see progression within this organization?
I think we play / practice in a more creative way. We practise on fundamental skills, which means we focus ourselves on the basics of basketball like dribbling. So a center can bring the ball to the other half, or a guard can post-up. So we have several way to play our game. I think that is what have made us stronger.
What is your main goal with Grasshoppers?
Become champions with Grasshoppers, which is quite obvious. Nevertheless, I want Grasshoppers to be a stabilized team who always plays in the top 4 of the Netherlands. I would also like that our younger players can look up to us and want to become just like us in the future.
How do you look back at last year’s play-offs against Batouwe?
That one was pretty heavy. I was pretty disappointed at the end, but it was quite an experience. We were up 1-3 in the series. It could be that we felt the pressure for winning just one single game. Though it was such a pity that we didn’t make it, I would rather be second with this Grasshoppers team than become champion with a whole new team!
Can you name a highlight in your career?
Something I can remember is a silver medal in Nanjing at the FIBA 3×3 U18 2014 along with Janis Ndiba, Esther Fokke and Charlotte van Kleef. Next year we took the bronze medal with FIBA European Championship U20 in Lanzarote. Definitely that bronze medal was a big highlight because I played with almost all of those teammates at U20 in the U16 back in 2011.
Your sister Karin made history at last FIBA 3×3 European championship. How do you compare 3×3 with 5×5 basketball?
I think you can play both 3×3 an 5×5, but if you want to improve your 3×3 style, you got to make a choice. Because during the season from September till June you play 5×5 basketball and in the summer 3×3. If you want to play in the 3×3 Olympic games then you have to spend more time in 3×3.
Do you think basketball in the Netherlands is making progression?
For my opinion, I think it’s growing right now. For example that 3×3 tournament in Amsterdam last summer; it was sold out every day. People talked about it very much, which I think it’s good for the sport in our country. But hey, it can always be better.
You’ve been an international for quite some time. How have you improved over the years?
As an international I think you got to be smarter in defense. Not to mention, everything goes faster and quicker. You have to act fast, shoot fast, be fast in the transition. That’s why I think it’s good that the Amsterdam Angels can make that possible for all the players in the Netherlands.