Why did you want to become a goalkeeper?
As a girl, you have to try and stand your ground, literally and figuratively, in the first years. After a few training sessions with the very youngest, however, Joni Billen already knew what would be. There was only one goal and that was not to score, but to get the shots on goal. And we should not forget that when a woman has something in mind, she often goes for it. And so, after a few trainings with the U6, it was already a fact that she took place under the bar and so many years later, she is still there and currently plays for Bosdam Beveren from 2nd National A.
Being a goalkeeper runs in the family. According to us, her nephew Emile Demarbaix was so impressed that there was no other possibility than to become a goalkeeper too. He is also doing it with a lot of success and plays at elite level at Beerschot. Thus, the goal has become a territory within the family 😊
Which current goalkeeper do you like the most?
When we talk about the idols of Joni Billen, everyone will quickly start to think. When we mention Stijn Stijnen and Simon Mignolet, we say that must be a Club Brugge supporter :-). And so it is. Joni can regularly be found at the matches of her favourite team. Competition, Champions League, she has seen it all, so it is difficult to support other goalkeepers. Both goalkeepers have a different style, but by watching and evaluating them you learn something from both.
As a goalkeeper you also have to be able to play good football. Do you do anything special to improve or maintain these techniques?
In women’s football, goalkeepers have to be able to play football as well, which is no different from men’s football. On top of that, we don’t develop the same strength in women’s football as in men’s football. Therefore, we have to be very agile and try to read the game well in order to make the right decisions. To train the explosiveness and agility Joni Billen has some Blazepods available. Fun but quite tiring when you give it your all.
How do you prepare for a match?
The matches in 2nd National A are often played on Saturday 17:30. Because of the later hour you have some time left to do other things. Sometimes too much time when it comes to Joni, because when you do nothing for a while and think about relaxing a bit, the stress comes up and you have too much time to start thinking about the match. And stress is the worst advisor.
What are the main characteristics you look for in a goalkeeper’s glove?
As a girl, you are less likely to have big hands (it would be strange, wouldn’t it?) Joni herself has very small hands, which makes it a lot more difficult to hold a size 5 ball. When you are playing with a size 4 in the youth group, you do not immediately feel this smaller hand as a disadvantage, but as soon as you make the switch, you quickly notice the difference between the two sizes. With this smaller size, the grip is very important. With the prostar gloves, which have a perfect grip and durability, I can grip a lot more balls.
Before Joni Billen got to know Prostar via Emile, she regularly played at Elite. Unfortunately, the top models were never available in her size, so she had to work with less quality. Fortunately, Prostar also offers the same latex in the smaller sizes.
What are your biggest career highlights so far?
They often say that in life you have to look forward to the things to come. Still, sometimes it can be nice to take a moment to remember why we love this game so much. When Joni made the move from Beerschot to Antwerp at the age of 15, she was immediately allowed to train with the BeNe League team in which Nainggolan’s sister also played. When Joni reached the minimum age of 16, she was finally allowed to join the Top Team. A year, but above all an experience never to forget.
What do you like to do when it’s not football?
Fortunately, the taboo surrounding women’s football has changed dramatically in recent years. Partly thanks to the good results of our female national team, it is no longer strange for a girl to prefer being on the football pitch to going to gymnastics class. Besides the football field, Joni Billen can be found on the karting circuit. The ideal outlet after a bad match. Full throttle to let out all the frustration. With the big advantage that there is no need for a speed penalty.
Any advice you can give to young goalkeepers who are trying to break through?
Always keep believing in yourself. If you are having a bad time: Don’t think I can’t do it, but I can only get better at it.
Joni does not hesitate to choose the best affordable quality on the market. No compromises on quality or price. She chose among others the following models. Do you also want to get started with these professional goalkeeper gloves?