The dutiful students and imperturbable construction workers who had to find their way around the synthetic grass hockey pitch installed at Erasmus Plaza looked surprised. The pitch had been provisionally screened off by means of tables, banners and beams and was part of the university’s Discover Your Talent Day, which took place last Wednesday. Participants were invited to attend several clinics on this sunny day.

Two rowing machines had been installed near the Erasmus Pavilion. It was serious business here. Extremely fanatical participants, some dressed in sports gear, were working their arses off to complete the exercise in the fastest time possible, driven by adrenalin-pumping music. Kevin van der Kaaij, a 21-year-old Fiscal Economics student, sought to live up to his reputation. “During Eureka Week, I logged the fastest time in the rowing exercise. I’m trying to achieve the same thing here.”

Roeien Discover Your Talent
Kevin van der Kaaij working his arse off at Skadi’s rowing clinic

Once-in-a-lifetime opportunity

At the same time, a boxing clinic was about to kick off, where participants would be taught how to deliver various types of punches and hooks. This clinic was taught by none other than Nouchka Fontijn, a vice world champion and the first female Dutch boxer to make it to the Olympics. Fontijn studied Sports Marketing en Management at Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences (HR). “I love seeing students work so hard”, she told us. “I recognise myself in that attitude. Some of RSBV Erasmus Boxing’s athletes are really doing a great job.”

Criminology student Daniëlle Harte, 20, was one of those Erasmus Boxing boxers. “Meeting Nouchka Fontijn really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me. It feels so special to be standing next to someone who will be shown on TV during the Olympics. I do a fair bit of boxing myself, as it’s a great way to get rid of my surplus energy. I really received some useful advice from Fontijn today.”

Each component of the clinics attracted about ten participants, meaning the clinics were not too crowded, but many passersby stopped to take a gander, and the students sitting on the crowded benches showed a considerable interest from a distance, as did the living imitator of Erasmus.

Boksen Discover Your Talent
Nouchka Fontijn (centre) instructs her students. A very focused Daniëlle Harte can be seen on the right.

‘Shit, I should have taken a selfie with him!’

The hockey clinic mainly attracted children, who were being taught how to dribble and take shots by Jeroen Hertzberger. The Rotterdammer, who was an Erasmus University student for one year, has been preselected for the men’s hockey team representing the Netherlands at the Olympics. “Teaching a clinic on a square really is completely different from teaching a clinic at a hockey club”, Hertzberger said. “It’s interesting to teach people who have hardly played any hockey before some tricks.”

Quite a few participants had no idea who Hertzberger was. “He’s a professional hockey player? Shit, I should have taken a selfie with him!”, said Jarno Boot, a 26-year-old International Business Administration student.

Neck-and-neck race

By now Skadi had announced the winner of its rowing competition: Kevin van der Kaaij, who had won himself a free dinner at Mexican restaurant Popocatepetl and was very happy about that. “This is great. It really was a neck-and-neck race. One other contestant and I kept breaking each other’s records. In the end, I completed the exercise in 39.5 seconds, about half a second faster than at Eureka Week.”

Discover Your Talent Day was part of the Rotterdam Talent Week, which is taking place at the EUR campus from 6 to 9 June. The week’s events focus on talent, diversity and entrepreneurship.