5 things to know before joining a team sport in the Netherlands
Are you interested in playing a team sport in the Netherlands? Well, you’re in luck! This tiny country boasts a number of associations and clubs with a variety of sports to choose from.
Whether you’re itching to play football, lacrosse, volleyball, or Gaelic hurling, there is a sports association for everyone! However, these teams are predominantly Dutch (except for maybe the hurling one) and there may be a few differences between team sports here and in your home country.
Here are a few things to keep in mind before joining a sports team in the Netherlands:
1. Competitive vs non-competitive sports
The majority of teams in the Netherlands participate in competitions in a national league. Usually, these competitions are against other sports associations or other teams within your own club. Each team sport is governed by their own national organisation which organises the matches and rankings throughout the season.
Although many of these athletes compete in matches, you are not required to do the same. Many clubs also allow people to join as a training member (trainingslid), which allows you to only attend the team's training sessions. This might be more ideal if you have a busy schedule or want to play the sport in a more relaxed way.
2. Tryout period
Depending on whether a specific sport has limited space or certain requirements, many sports clubs or associations will hold a tryout period for potential new members. These tryouts can take place over the course of a day or even up to a week. They are meant to help place you in the right team for your particular skill level.
It’s important to take the tryouts seriously in order to increase your chances of getting a spot on a team. Further, it will show the organisers that you are committed to the sport and that you have what it takes to do well.
3. Speaking Dutch
Okay, so your interest in joining a sports team is piqued. But there is still one question that is lingering in your mind: Do you need to speak fluent Dutch to join a sports team in the Netherlands? The answer for the most part is: no. Most Dutch people speak English really well (or at least well enough to have a basic conversation with you) so asking them to switch shouldn’t be a problem. Your team will also likely have at least one or two other internationals as well, so chances are you won't be the only one!
However, if some of your teammates are not as willing to speak English with you, it can be helpful to familiarise yourself with specific Dutch terms related to your sport so you can understand what's going on. You can already get started with knowing basic terms like: point (punt), match (wedstrijd) and here (hier). Furthermore, as you continue playing in a Dutch team, you will be exposed to more of the language and become more fluent naturally.
There are also some associations or specific teams that are made up of only expats, if you are searching specifically for a community of people with the same background as you.
4. Locker room culture
There are some unique and interesting traditions that Dutch sports teams partake in in the locker room. You might be surprised to know that many teams shower together after training or matches. In the Netherlands, it is normal to get in the shower and have conversations with your teammates while you are both fully nude.
A post-game, group shower is not complete, however, without a refreshing shower beer. Yes, you read that right. Beer - which may or may not help you cope with the fact that you are so publicly au naturale - is often taken into the shower after a match. The beer is either meant to celebrate or console the members, depending on the outcome of the match.
So, if you’re planning on joining a Dutch sports team, don’t be surprised if your captain drops their pants in front of you and invites you into the shower. It’s nothing nefarious, just innocent team bonding.
A number of Dutch sports teams are also fans of singing during their matches. Not every team or association does this but those that do typically use the melodies from popular songs and add their own unique lyrics.
This tradition is meant to motivate the team and to help them feel more bonded with one another. There are also some songs or chants that are used specifically to intimidate the opposing team (this is especially common if your team scores a point against them). Not exactly good sportsmanship but it can be addictive!
Join a sports team
So, now that you know all there is to know about team sports in the Netherlands, it’s time to join one! Becoming a member of a sports association is a great way to stay active, meet new people and really get in touch with Dutch culture!