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Special Olympics debut in The Hague with Beach Volleyball demo

News from the CEV

The Hague/Scheveningen, Netherlands, June 2, 2012. Following our recent partnership with the European Volleyball Confederation (CEV) athletes selected by Special Olympics The Netherlands participated in a demonstrated match at the European Beach Volleyball Championships.

Although the Beach Volleyball program was introduced quite recently in The Netherlands, still four players – Elke Messelink, Joris Geerts, Erik Hilderink and Reinier van Gestel – enjoyed the unique opportunity to showcase their skills and enthusiasm for the sport playing in front of crowded stands of the magnificent centre court set up right by the beach of Scheveningen.

The athletes normally have one training session a week that lasts for one and a half hour as revealed by their mentor Norbert de Beer. Playing for the club Twente ’05 which is based in Amsterdam, they really impressed the Dutch fans, showing once again the major role that sport can play to support and encourage the inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities.

“This weekend 2,000 athletes are competing in the south of The Netherlands for our national games” said a Dutch official, “with the most popular disciplines being swimming, football, athletics, and gymnastics. We nevertheless hope that more and more will start playing Volleyball as well as Beach Volleyball and that The Netherlands will participate in the next World Games that are coming up in Los Angeles in 2015 with some athletes competing also in these sports”.

Special Olympics The Netherlands is funded by money donated by private citizens as well as by some multi-national companies. To date no public funding has been available. Last year when Team NL went to Athens to compete in the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games each athlete and team member had to raise Euro 1,000 to cover all their travel costs.

Wearing jerseys provided to them by their sponsor, Elke, Joris, Erik and Reinier were happy to have a look around and get some insights from behind the scenes of the European Championship Final. They also got the privilege to feel the atmosphere of the centre court and the passion of the local fans. Elke was asked why she chose volleyball over all the other sports at Special Olympics to which she replied: “We just like the teamwork, the fact that you do not play alone but you share your time and fun with other people” stresses Elke. With this attitude she has already won her own share of glory, on and off the court.