PELLA—The Dutch are heading to the Netherlands. Coach Craig Douma and the Central College men’s basketball team embark on a nine-day international journey Aug. 19-27. Central will stay in Dordtrecht, playing games against Dutch club teams there and in Amsterdam, with extensive sightseeing throughout the country.

NCAA rules allow for 10 practices prior to the trip and the squad started drills on campus last Friday.

While the trip will enhance Central’s preparation for the season, basketball doesn’t top the agenda.

“This trip will help us with team bonding and allow us to work on some things offensively and defensively,” Douma said. “It will give us a jump start on the season. But the most important thing is the opportunity to travel internationally. Central is about study abroad and this is a great chance to be around another culture. And with the connections the Netherlands has with Central and with the city of Pella, it’s a great fit.”

Central is a national leader in study abroad, first offering international programs in 1965.

Ton Sels, a Dutch businessman with Pella connections, is organizing Central’s trip, Douma said.

It’s the first trip to the Netherlands for Douma, an Orange City native.

“I’m 100% Dutch,” he said. “I’m super-excited.”

Central had an inexperienced squad last year, enduring an 8-17 season. But the Dutch return three starters, including second-team all-American Rivers guard Jaden Moody (senior, Cambridge, Ballard HS). He is the only senior among the 13 players making the trip, while 10 are sophomores. They’ll be accompanied by three coaches.