When Matthijs Eppinga decided to spend a semester at Concordia, it was strictly for academic purposes &- playing soccer was a bonus. Nonetheless, the Dutch exchange student has left his mark on Concordia soccer and on Canadian Interuniversity Sport.
Last week, he was named to the All-Canadian second-team, becoming the first Stingers to receive this honour since Ammar Badawieh in 2003. The week before, he was named to the Quebec Conference first team All-Star.
If you ever meet Eppinga, you will see right away that he is a humble man. It’s always about the team and never about him. If you tell him that he is the best player on the squad, he will immediately argue that one person does not make a team.
“It’s nice to get recognize for the achievements,” acknowledged Eppinga, “but [soccer] is a team sport.” He also had high praise for the team’s coaches. “Lloyd [Barker] and his assistants are very good guys, I enjoyed working with them.”
The Concordia men’s soccer team finished the season with a record of two wins, eight loses and two ties, an underperformance in Eppinga’s opinion. “I would have preferred reaching the playoffs as a team, it’s a lot more satisfying because you reach something together and you celebrated together,” said Eppinga, who found the back of the net seven times this season.
“For sure we should have been in third or fourth place, we weren’t anything less than McGill, Sherbrooke, Trois-RiviÃ¨res and even MontrÃ©al,” he said, but pointed out “the capabilities of this team didn’t completely come out.”
Despite their results, he enjoyed playing for the team and found the level of play to be only slightly lower than the NCAA soccer second division where he played for two seasons with Franklin Pierce University and won the National Championship in 2007.
“Some teams were comparable to this league but I think, in general, that the NCAA DII, especially our conference the North-East Ten, was a bit of a higher level,” Eppinga explained.
The Stingers’ number nine is now finishing his semester abroad. The exchange student from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, is spending the remainder of his time in Montreal, at least for now. Next semester, he will be back to his homeland to finish his bachelor’s degree in international business.
As a requirement for his program, Eppinga had to spend a semester abroad, and chose Montreal as his destination. The first time he had set foot in Montreal was this summer, visiting one of his former teammates from Franklin Pierce.
It was then that he fell in love with the city, its people and its atmosphere.
“[Montreal] is a very liberal city. In that perspective it looks a lot like Holland. Holland is very open-minded as well and I don’t think you can find that in a lot of countries,” said Eppinga. “It’s the whole atmosphere in Montreal which I really like; I think it’s really enjoyable.”
Concordia was the only real option in Montreal for the Drachten native, as other universities that were compatible with his program did not take exchange students.
At the beginning of the semester, he met many interesting people because of the international exchange student introduction and calls this his favourite memory from his time here.
“My first couple of weeks here, we had a lot of international exchange introductions, and we met a lot of international exchange students. I met a lot of nice people and good friends; we hang out all the time together. That was my best memory from Concordia,” said Eppinga.
At the end of the season, Eppinga had to manage a heavy soccer schedule and a full course workload, though it is probably easier when you like what you do, like he does.
His childhood dream was, like many kids around the world, to be a professional soccer player but realistically he knows that it is extremely difficult and only a chosen few can have that luxury. He still wants to keep playing at a decent level but doesn’t want to put all is money on soccer.
That is why at 16 he decided to focus on his studies and secure his future with a sound education.
What does the future holds for Matthijs Eppinga? He is currently on the Flevo Boys roster in Holland, a semi-pro team that he intends to keep playing for. But he wants to do a masters’ degree, as well, and he might have to leave the team if he does it outside of Holland.
Either way, he has already figured out what he’ll be doing in the near future, after his last exam.
“[I’ll] probably go out for some drinks with my friends and celebrate my time here.”
Getting to know… Matthijs Eppinga
1. What’s your favourite TV show and why?
I like Entourage a lot, Entourage and The Office actually. Entourage is just very entertaining to watch, a lot of crazy stuff happening. The Office is completely hilarious, the sarcasm and the stupid jokes are very entertaining.
2. How many languages can you speak?
Well I always say three, basically Dutch, English and German, which is very similar to Dutch. I can read it and understand it, but speaking, not so much.
3. What is something no one here knows about you?
I am the outcast of my family since my parents and brother all have dark hair and dark eyes.
4. What’s your favourite place in Montreal and why?
Me and my friends go to the Sports Station to have a beer and have a good time, watch a sport or just drink.
5. What cartoon character best describes you?
(Laughs) That’s hilarious. The character… should I ask somebody and see what they think? It’s hard to say it about myself. People might have a better view of me. (Calls a friend who gives him an answer) Dennis the Menace, I guess.