Making friends at the sports club
Sport is good for a child's development – physically, psychologically and socially. However, there are 384,000 children in the Netherlands that live in families that cannot afford to let them play sports. The Youth Sports Fund ensures that these children, too, are able to take part in sporting activities and that they can feel a sense of belonging. Just like their friends.
Youth Sports Fund ensures all children get the opportunity to play sports
Gällindro Frankel, almost 8 years old, is playing football thanks to the Youth Sports Fund. His favourite football player is Cristiano Ronaldo. There are worse role models out there. What he likes about football? ‘That I get to play with my friends.’ Gällindro's parents lack the financial means to sign their son up with a football club, as football is an expensive sport for people who do not have a lot of money. If you are in that situation, the membership fees and the cost of a sports kit are expenses you simply cannot afford.
Just can't wait
‘He is thrilled to be a member of a football club,’ says Mireille van den Haak, youth social worker in the region Amstelland and de Meerlanden. She nominated Gällindro for the Youth Sports Fund. ‘From the moment the application had been submitted, he kept asking his mother: “When can I start?” Once he heard it had all been arranged, he was over the moon. It really is important that children with such a simple wish – to play sports with their friends – don't have to suffer because of their parents' financial difficulties. It's particularly difficult for those parents. They see that their child has a wish and they keep having to tell them that it's not possible, that they are unable to afford the sports club. Now that they can tell him that he can play sports, they're very proud when they see him running around the football field. I see it as a necessity, anyway. Children need exercise, it's that simple.”
Over two hundred municipalities
All children in the Netherlands have to be given the opportunity to take part in sporting activities. Just like Gällindro. That is the view of the Youth Sports Fund, which helps children between the ages of 4 and 18 who due to financial constraints find they are unable to join a sports club. The fund pays the membership fee for these children as well as, in certain cases, their sports equipment. Because it's important for their development. And because sport enables them to build up a new network which may be advantageous for them later in life. So far, more than 40,000 children have been given the opportunity to play sports thanks to the Youth Sports Fund, through a network which is active in over two hundred municipalities. The fund aims to achieve nationwide coverage. The goal for the next three years: to get 50 new municipalities involved in provincial Youth Sports Funds and to establish 6 independent Youth Sports Funds in several large cities.
‘I like that I get to play with my friends.’
The more, the better
Rabobank Foundation supports this initiative. When a municipality decides to start working with the local Youth Sports Fund, Rabobank Foundation donates seed capital which is used to help the first intake of children. After this initial donation, the Foundation asks local Rabobanks to contribute to the continuity of the municipal fund involved. This resulted, among other things, in follow-up donations by 23 local Rabobanks from their own member or cooperative funds. Rabobank also helps increase the Youth Sports Fund's name awareness through a nationwide text-messaging campaign, for example, and the ambassadorship of sport cyclist Marianne Vos. The more children are able to get involved in sport, the better.
Gällindro's father takes his son to the football pitch every Saturday: ‘From the very first day he went off to play football, he's been making friends. He doesn't talk about anything else! A week in advance, with one match only just gone, he'll already be talking about the next one. He just can't wait. I think it's great.’
Working with intermediaries
How do you know whether a child is eligible to receive support from the Youth Sports Fund? To discover this, the fund gets help from intermediaries such as teachers, doctors and youth service workers. They know the children and their home situation and can make an application using a Youth Sports Fund online request system.