Playing hockey in a Rotterdam working-class neighbourhood
Feijenoord Hockey Club makes sport available to all children. 'I am extremely proud of this club and the share we have in the lives of the children in this neighbourhood,' says Paul Veldhuijzen, driving force behind Feijenoord Hockey Club. The hockey field has been made possible through the efforts of the residents of Rotterdam South, local businesses and the club management. Rabobank contributed to the installation of the artificial turf field and entered into a sponsor agreement with the club for three years.
In the shadow of Rotterdam
Rotterdam's working-class neighbourhood of Feijenoord is the last place you'd expect to find a field hockey club... Or is it? Paul Veldhuijzen wanted to change that. After seeing day after day how little sport the children of this community did, he went ahead and started a hockey club. And that proved to be just the thing the neighbourhood was waiting for. It's now one of the fastest-growing hockey clubs in the city.
Learned in the cradle...
Feijenoord Hockey Club is introducing the sport of field hockey to children in the community of Feijenoord in an open and friendly way. Every week, the club holds open practice sessions for beginners on playgrounds and on Cruyff Courts in Rotterdam's south side. Dozens of children participate every week. Because the club provides the sticks, balls and coaches, the children can simply try out the sport as they like without the expense or commitment that generally makes hockey so exclusive. Children aged four and up can join and take part in the practice sessions.
A sporty good time
Paul Veldhuijzen (51), himself an enthusiastic hockey player, wants to introduce all children to 'the great sport of hockey'. 'Sport is the perfect thing to bring children together,' he says. 'Our club is getting Rotterdam's kids together and helping them get ahead,' says Mario van der List of Rabobank Rotterdam. 'That's exactly what Rabobank stands for, because you can achieve more together than alone.' Rabobank contributed financially to the club's artificial turf hockey field and signed a three-year sponsorship contract with them.
Feijenoord is the first multicultural hockey club in the Netherlands. 'We are truly a reflection of Rotterdam society,' says Paul. 'We have all walks of life coming together on and around the hockey field. When I see that happen, it's just beautiful to me. The club is offering children opportunities that weren't there before. There really wasn't any kind of sport happening at all in the south side of Rotterdam. I felt like we had to do something about that. You have to understand that hockey is anything but the traditional sport of this community. That's what made it seem to me like the perfect choice, to open it up to a completely new target group.'
Training ground for talent
Star player Shanty was one of the first to come out and try playing hockey at Feijenoord’s Afrikaanderplein square. 'She showed up, back then she barely came up to my chest, but one day she was standing at the gate and asked me: "So, can I try it, too?" And she never left,' says Paul. 'I thought it was great right away,' Shanty recalls. 'And that first day, I went home and told my mother: "I want to keep doing hockey!"' Shanty moved on to a leading secondary school for high-potential athletes. 'I never thought I'd make it this far,' she says.