Bill Westerveld’s life story is a testament to his enduring passion for football and resilience in the face of adversity. His journey in the sport took him across continents, representing his homeland at the youth level before embarking on a new chapter in New Zealand and later in Australia.

Born in Venlo in 1933 in his youth he played for VVV Venlo. Avoiding compulsory military service Bill emigrated to New Zealand in 1951, where he started work as a butcher in Dunedin.

The 1954 New Zealand football team. Bill Westerveld is in the middle of the back row.

His tenure in New Zealand saw him contribute to the local football scene, playing for the Mornington Football Club and eventually earning a spot on the national team for a tour of Australia in 1954. Despite modest expectations, Westerveld and his teammates achieved notable victories, including a memorable win against Australia.

Australia beckoned Westerveld with both sporting opportunities and employment, leading him to Melbourne where he joined the football club Wilhelmina. His time with Wilhelmina coincided with significant success in the Victorian leagues, culminating in a championship win in 1959.

However, tragedy struck that same year when Westerveld lost an arm in a car accident while working for adidas. Despite this life-altering setback, he displayed remarkable resilience, returning to football as a player-coach and eventually building a successful business in New South Wales.

Living on the NSW Central Coast Bill became a founding member of the Mariners Foundation.

Bill with Mariner player Harry Ascroft

Beyond his sporting endeavours, Westerveld’s personal life also saw triumphs and challenges, including the loss of his second wife, Dawn, in 2013. Despite the hardships, he cherishes memories of his time in both New Zealand and Australia, including friendships with notable figures like former Prime Minister David Lange.

Now (2024) in his 80s, Westerveld remains deeply connected to the game he loves, continuing to support football initiatives and promote its growth, a testament to his enduring passion and dedication to the sport.

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Otago Daily Times