How to stop struggling after professional sports life?

(3 augustus 2017)

Today I want to shine a light on a very important and under valued topic: life after professional sport. The reason is a brave article about one of the best female mixed doubles players we have had in my sport, Gail Emms from England.

Once you decide to quit doing the thing you love to do most you need to reinvent yourself. Who are you beside your sport? What’s your new identity and what are you going to do to have your days filled in a satisfying way? Those topics are really NOT easy and can cause huge problems, mentally, physically and for some athletes also financially. Unfortunately the services and support of association and National Olympic Committee almost stops the moment you walk out of the door of professional sports. They suddenly kind of forget all the years you performed on a world stage in big events as World & European Championships and Super Series tournaments. You are simply not interesting anymore while it’s actually a golden opportunity to keep an athlete inside your association as for instance a coach, mentor for youngsters or an advisor for the board.

Together we need to pay way more attention to this problem which is getting bigger and bigger. NOC and a National association should not take only responsibility for supporting and developing athletes during their professional careers but should also take care of them in their post professional sports life! If we can create a society that makes it clear where to go to once you retire and who can coach and help you in your new life things will get so much easier. And remember! Athletes are more than worth it to invest in and take care of. They are used to go to their limits and they know how to deal with high performance circumstances. Don’t you think companies can use these qualities in business as well? We should all benefit from their expertise but to get there committed support and help is necessary!
Please share this article to create more attention for this very important subject and like if you have the same opinion! Thank you!

New Duinwijck contract

(25 mei 2017)

I am happy and proud to announce I have signed another contract at Dutch Premier League club Duinwijck! I am really looking forward to a great season with a talented mix of young and old soldiers! It will be a special year, because we will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the club and most likely it will be the last year in the old hall. Very good reasons to make it a year to remember!

Photo credit: Robert Grobbe

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Together with sponsor Jaap van de Kolk

Together with sponsor Jaap van de Kolk

Christmas greeting

(25 december 2016)

I want to wish everybody a merry Christmas with lots of love, delicious food and drinks and cosiness!

Another farewell

(3 maart 2016)

Last Sunday I played, much to my regret, my last match for 1. BV Mülheim. In the décor of the Yonex German Open, which is played this week in the RWE Hall in Mülheim and where I participated myself last year, I was eager to score the first point for my club. Together with Marcus Ellis, who was also playing his last match, I did what I had planned to do: winning.

During the past four years Marcus and I have taken the majority of the men’s doubles for our account and we were a very good pair. It’s a pity that this is history now. All these years the first team of BVM was a close and well attuned group both during matches but also beyond. I like to thank my teammates, among whom also Judith Meulendijks who left the team earlier this season and our coach Boris Reichel, for a wonderful and memorable time.
Last but not least I want to thank all volunteers and fans of 1.BVM who have supported and assisted the team as well as myself personally during the past 4 years. 1.BV Mülheim is a fantastic club!!

As I very much like to continue playing badminton I sincerely hope I will be able to find a new club to which I can devote myself again. I keep you posted.

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A creative approach, desire and progress

(7 december 2015)

When you have been running with a racket behind a shuttle day in day out and for more than 15 years, you know the ins and outs of the badminton world better than anyone. Although I think you should never forget where your roots are, it’s sometimes nice to peek into somebody else’s backyard.

And that’s exactly what I am doing since last week! Fortunately, this backyard is also focussed on a sport because sport is in every bone of my body and really belongs to my DNA! With my top-level sport background and my sports marketing education at the Johan Cruyff University this ” transfer ” may not be entirely unexpected, but it definitely is not ordinary! I am pleased, proud and highly motivated to have started my new job at the Dutch Premier League Football club ADO The Hague. And I haven’t been contracted as a second goalie, but as an account manager at the commercial department. I am taking up this challenge with a lot of fighting spirit and passion!

Moreover, this does not mean that I will get out of the badminton world. Of course I still play with a lot of pleasure for 1.BV Mülheim in the German Premier League and I will continue, whenever possible, to coach and train badminton teams and to give clinics, demonstrations and continuing training. All this because I still love the badminton game and I want to pass on all the knowledge and experience I have gained over the years.

Contract ondertekening

Contract ondertekening

Racketdriedaagse

(23 oktober 2015)

Memberships of sport associations are becoming less and less popular nowadays. Unfortunately all the racketsports (Badminton, Tennis, Table Tennis and Squash) are suffering from a decrease in memberships in the Netherlands. Even a well-known sport as tennis has to deal with a decrease of 3000 members. Not to mention the numbers of badminton, table tennis and squash! A week ago I wrote an article about how to make badminton more popular and this week I found one of the answers.

To promote at least two of these troubled sports, badminton and table tennis, the city of Amsterdam organised the so called Racketdriedaagse. A 3 day promotion to introduce these games to children in the age group 6-12. Over 50 children got the chance to find out if they would like to join a club. A very smart move was to invite their parents during the last few hours of day 3, because they are the ones who would have to pay for the memberships of their children. So to enthuse them was part of the plan. It worked out very well and it looks like both table tennis and badminton will get some new future talents on board! Mission accomplished!

Badminton promotion

(15 oktober 2015)

It is a fact that school-aged youngsters excersise less and less. With all the distractions of today it is not cool enough anymore to do sports, not to mention to join a sports club. Our badminton sport has also suffered severely from this trend. There are too few talented young players flowing to the senior levels and for years there has been a decrease in the number of players who are, via their club, member of the National Badminton Association. To bring this decline to a halt and reverse to a gain is a major challenge. A membership increase can only be achieved by means of a large number of youngsters joining badminton clubs and become sustaining members of the Association. Youngsters who have experienced that badminton is a fun sport and who can be enthused to get better at the sport through proper training and coaching. Schools are the ideal source to get youngsters enthusiastic about a sport provided they are willing and able to pay extra attention to it.

Currently I am promoting badminton at schools. Through short promotional lessons I try to enthuse children in secondary education for the badminton sport and make them attend after-school badminton classes offered at their school. The ultimate goal is to have them join a badminton club in their neighborhood at the end of the school year. Good for our sport because there may be talents among these young guys and girls. Good for the schools as well as a child with an healthy and vital body will learn and perform better. A Win-Win situation!

New and different challenges

(1 september 2015)

Tuesday August 11th 2015 during the magnificent World Championships in the Badminton Mecca, the Istora Senayan Arena in Jakarta, I played the last match of my international badminton career. I have decided to stop as a professional badminton player. After 18 years of badminton competition, of which the last 15 years as a professional athlete, a special period of my life has come to an end. I will now start with a new chapter.

Recently it became increasingly clear that the funding for our ambitious tournament plan towards the Olympics 2016 in Rio, as drawn up by the Dutch Badminton Association, was not feasible. The financial support from the association (a personal budget) proved to me personally to be far from adequate enough to cover the costs of the 21 qualifier tournaments that Samantha and I would have to play. 21 tournaments which were and are essential to gain points for the world ranking. Additionally, we lacked progression towards the top 10 in the world in our mixed doubles and our position in the top 20 of the world ranking was not enough to get additional financial support. Neither from the Association nor from the Dutch Olympic Committee. For me it is not possible to compete on the highest possible level without these crucial contributions.

With great pleasure and pride I look back on a wonderful time within the world of, in my view, the most beautiful sport there is. The badminton sport has taught me a lot and has led me to magnificent spots all over the world. In my early years, mostly in the smaller sports halls within Europe and in recent years in the world’s biggest arenas that exist within our sport. I have had the privilege to measure up to the world’s very best athletes at tournaments I’d only hoped to play, when I was a child. I celebrated successes, suffered defeats, dealt with disappointments, had lucky breaks and experienced euphoria. All these years I got (financial) support from people of different companies like e.g. Yonex and Footconnection, but also from individual people. I like to thank them all very much for their trust and confidence and the credits they gave me. They made it possible for me to be a professional sportsman throughout the years. They have made possible that I could achieve good performances, moments that I will always cherish. Naturally I also thank my partners with whom I have played together, my coaches, trainers, physios, masseurs and all other people who have been there for me throughout my badminton career. My biggest thanks go out to my parents, sister and girlfriend who always and I really mean always were and still are around. Family is the basis for everything and the basis is good! I am grateful for everything you meant for me and still mean to me. I love you!

The Highlights:

– European Championships: bronze individual, silver team
– National Champion
– 3x Finalist at the BWF Grand Prix Circuit, of which 1x Yonex Dutch Open
– Multiple winner and finalist at the Badminton Europe Circuit
– 36 caps for the Dutch National Team
– 7 qualifications World Championships, 5 qualifications European Championships,
3 World Team Championships selections, 9 European Team Championships selections
– Best World ranking: 16
– Best National ranking: 1

The Big Apple and Calgary

(29 juni 2015)

After our 4 1/2 week Asia and Australia tour we had a couple of days of training in Holland before we had to board another flight again. On Sunday June 14th we flew to New York for the first of two North American tournaments: The US Open and the Canada Open.

New York is not really New York. In fact the tournament is held in Brentwood on Long Island at about an hour drive from the Big Apple.
The first days we always use for training and getting accustomed to the time difference. The last mentioned didn’t cause any problems but the training was not a success. They had improvised badminton courts taped on an indoor athletics subsurface. Not exactly the ideal circumstances for a Grand Prix Gold tournament in the Olympic qualification year. I really wonder when BWF will finally open it’s eyes and start giving fines for such abuses.

But more important are the matches we played. After a rather easy win in the first round we were facing a Taiwanese pair in the second round. We lost this match in the last 5 points of the third game. Completely unnecessary, very disappointing and harsh reality!
As usual there is no time to linger in your disappointment, you are in a badminton roller coaster which never stops so we immediately focused on next week’s Canada Open in Calgary. Still I made time to pay a short visit to the Big Apple and enjoy this vibrant metropole. It was good to gain new energy and prepare for the trip to Calgary on Sunday.

The last 2 editions of the Canada Open, a Grand Prix tournament, we made it to the finals. This year we were seeded fifth. Via two hard-fought victory’s on, again, concrete floors (Hello BWF!?) we reach the quarter finals. There we meet the first seeded German pair Fuchs and Michels whom we played 2 times before. We also know them from the German Premier League where we also meet them quite regularly. To be honest, in this match we had nothing to contribute. We were just outclassed. We lost the match by 15 and 12 and that was the tournament it was.

Unfortunately these tournaments haven’t brought what I had hoped for, more victories and better playing. The last weeks we haven’t even come close to our top level which we reached at the end of 2014. The coming weeks we’ll have to find out how to get to that level again in order to perform at our best when we play the World Championships in Jakarta next August.

I write this just before boarding my KLM flight back to Holland. After having been abroad 46 days out of the past 54 it is about time to go home! I wish all my followers and other badminton lovers a great summer and after that a great start to the new season.

From Sudirman to Down Under

(18 mei 2015)

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20150515_215426Yesterday a great organized Sudirman Cup ended with an anticipated title for superpower China. Japan was beaten 3 to 0 and who else than badminton legend Lin Dan scored the winning point. Every time again I am amazed how he can make our sport look so easy. His footwork, his movements on court and his unbelievably effective way of playing are unique. A pleasure to watch and secretly to be very jealous of!

It was a pleasure to play in the arena specially built for the Sudirman Cup. Dongguan is a city where badminton is played just a bit more than in other Chinese cities, at least that was what one of our interpreters and assistants told me. In any case the matches were well attended. Moreover, there were 1.100 volunteers in and around the arena of which 600 residents and 500 students from Dongguan. For them this was a fantastic experience since they were chosen from many candidates to be part of this tournament. At any time of the day they were enthusiastic and incredibly friendly.

Our own competition in the 2nd group went well. In the group matches we consecutively defeated Canada, Spain and Singapore. After a false start in the mix against Canada we could take our revenge against Singapore. Samantha and I played against the former top 10 pair and current number 16 of the world Chrisnanta and Neo. We controlled the match well and despite a troubled start in the second game we could pursue our strategy well. As a result we won in two games and concluded this last group match with a 4-1 win. The game was broadcasted and if you like you may watch it here

Our first place in group 2 meant we had to play Hong Kong for the 13Th place in the tournament. When you are in group 2 it means that the 13th place is the highest position you can get. In fact it is a strange idea because you always want to play to win a tournament. As a country we will have to work hard during the coming years to improve our ranking in all areas and may be after some four years we’ll be able than to compete in the Champions group. If countries like Russia, England and Germany can do it, why not us? Moreover, the competition against Hong Kong was lost 1 by 3 and Samantha and I didn’t have to play the last match.

The next morning we were picked up very early to catch our flight to Melbourne and that’s where I write this report. How cool is that! I did not ever expect to get there because of the enormous distance to be bridged. Even from southern China it is still a 9.5 hours flight. However, Australia now has a Super Series tournament as well which will be held next week in Sydney. Before we go there next Sunday, we first join the trainings this week of the Australian National Team. Australia is a sporting nation at heart and their training center is beautiful and fully equipped. A great location to spend an interim week! The training sessions are mostly early in the morning so we can also enjoy some free time which we will obviously spent well. It’s autumn, almost winter here, but the weather is still very nice and
Melbourne is a great city! In short, it’s a great trip so far and I fully enjoy it!

Next week we have a tough draw. In the first round we have to play the Chinese Kai Lu and Huang Yaqiong who are in the top eight of the world ranking. At the World Championships we were beaten in two games but we will again analyze them and find a good strategy for that match. I’m very much looking forward to it! But now I’ll first enjoy Australia’s coffee capital, Melbourne!