20/07/2018 11:00
How come the Utrecht stadium is sold-out every night?
2018 CEV DELA Beach Volleyball European Championship

Utrecht, The Netherlands, July 20, 2018. Every night has been a full house in the Beach Volleyball stadium on the Neude square in Utrecht. But why is this? Is Utrecht such a Volleyball loving city? A city mostly known for hosting events as the Tour de France Grand Départ, the Youth Olympic Festival and the Vuelta a España. We met up with Wilco Nijland, a local entrepreneur with Volleyball in his heart and event development running through his veins to explore why the CEV DELA Beach Volleyball European Championships have this energizing effect on Netherland’s fourth largest city.

These are busy times for Nijland (37). He, together with his company, are in charge of the Utrecht side-events, which the city asked him to organise. A total of eight tournaments, including on Sunday the 15th of July ‘Utrechts Mega Beach Volleyball’, a big tournament in and around the city. On Friday night there’s a party in the local club Woolloomooloo and workshops have been arranged for beach volleyball trainers and referees. Next to all of this he’s moonlighting as the trainer of Dutch wildcard duo Sophie van Gestel and Marloes Wesselink. 

Nijland talking to Sophie van Gestel (left) and Marloes Wesselink

Nijland (37), who has degrees in physical education and sports management, is the joint owner of Sportworx, a company specialized in creating and developing sports concepts. Together with partners Joost Bellaart, a former field hockey coach, and Roelof Bijlsma, an investor.

In his hard to find spare time Nijland plays Volleyball himself at the local VV Utrecht, a club that resides in a sports hall adjacent to the Galgenwaard stadium of football club FC Utrecht. He has his feet deeply lodged into Utrecht’s Volleyball environment. He explains why his city has come out to see #EuroBeachVolley in huge numbers.

“First of all, the location. This is a top location. Lots of people see it as they pass the Neude square in the city centre. Secondly, Beach Volleyball in combination with sunny weather is really fun. And last but not least, we have been educating the people of Utrecht for three years that this tournament is coming to their city.” 

He initiated meetings with representatives of each of the nine volleyball clubs in Utrecht. Ever since one and a half years ago the European Championships were a dot on the horizon. “We have organized stops of the DELA Eredivisie Beach (highest national league) in 2016, 2017 and 2018. It all was far away for the clubs, but they do realize something is happening.” 

“Don’t forget, Utrecht is a huge Volleyball city. Next to Apeldoorn and Groningen, Utrecht is one of the largest Volleyball playing cities in the Netherlands. For a very long time Utrecht was a city full of volleyball players, but no big event organized to facilitate them. So 60 to 70 percent of all people in the stadium play at an Utrecht volleyball club.”

“So we have laid the groundwork in Utrecht, and with the European Championship coming,  organisers Tigsports and Nevobo doubled down on marketing and the result is clearly visible.”

Click here for the schedule of the remaining two days in Utrecht

News nr. 9 of 43
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19/07/2018 23:00:00
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