Lees meer

‘I wasn’t expecting to be doing this’: Spacious fun at Skadi

Het is een zomers tafereel op het terrein van Skadi aan het Noorderkanaal. De…

Tuesday’s announcement was cause for celebration for the members of student rowing club Skadi: the news that they could row closer together again was greeted with the pop of prosecco bottles. “We finally get to row a full shell again! We were delighted with this news,” says Skadi president Floor Ruttenberg with some relief. Since rowing isn’t a contact sport, they could still practice together, of sorts. But conditions were hardly optimal: “We could only fit two rowers to each four-seater – but we don’t have enough four shells to go round.”

The clubs and Erasmus Sport actually hadn’t expected the rules for outdoor team sports to be eased at this point. “The other measures had already been leaked a few days beforehand – this one was only announced on the afternoon leading up to the press conference. We immediately made a round of calls to confer on what we can do in anticipation of the relaxation,” says Jon de Ruijter of Erasmus Sport. “Initially, we assumed that group activities indoors would once again be allowed, but it turns out these are still subject to restrictions.”

Evening trainings under curfew

The sports clubs are still waiting to see how the Municipality will be implementing the new measures in practice. Ruttenberg hopes that clubs will be allowed to organise internal competitions. “We already have plans to set up a few races within the club. We also want to share the finishing times with other clubs, so we can still compete to a degree with clubs in other towns.”

The footballers at Antibarbari also intend to return to the pitch as soon as possible. According to club chair Julia de Wit, everyone is more or less fed up with socially distanced 1-on-1 trainings. So they’re in a very festive mood too. “We’re still figuring out how we can make this work with the curfew in place. A number of trainings were scheduled later in the evening, which is no longer an option of course. Maybe we can organise a few club tournaments in the period ahead, although this depends on what the Municipality says.”

The players of Rotterdamse Studenten Rugbyclub (RSRC) are hopeful, although they’re also waiting to hear the final recommendations before they make any concrete plans. “Of course, rugby can’t be compared to something like badminton. So we have to wait and see what’s possible.” RSRC chair Kevin Cakim is already cautiously daydreaming of a less Covid-dominated summer: “Maybe we can throw a nice party on our pitch – if need be with marked-off sections and lounge areas to ensure proper social distancing. We have enough grass for that at least.”

Basketball misses out

Some clubs won’t be benefiting from the relaxation though. De Ruijter of Erasmus Sport: “We’re trying to move a number of indoor sports outside – the volleyball players will probably be making use of the beach volleyball court, for instance – but we can’t accommodate everyone. There’s only limited room on campus, so it’s a bit of a puzzle.”

The Baros players try to block a Woodpeckers’ attack Image credit: Jack Parker

For the moment, the players of the Baros basketball club won’t be able to return to the court, for example. Club chair Koen Slinger has to be patient for a bit longer still: “There are only three or four good outdoor basketball courts in Rotterdam. If the weather’s fine enough – and with basketball, it needs to be dry because the court gets slippery otherwise – a lot of people want to play there. We can hardly claim them for ourselves.”

And mobile baskets? “We’d have to rent those, and we have a huge budget deficit as it is, since so far, the national basketball federation is still requiring us to pay for a full season. We are currently talking with the members to see how we can compensate for the part of the season that has more or less gone to waste, while staying healthy in terms of club finances,” says Slinger.

‘Not on my watch’

Other clubs have financial worries of their own. De Wit (Antibarbari): “This is a rough year. There’s no income, while we have the same expenses as always. Our main source of income is the club canteen, and we aren’t allowed to reopen it yet. A share of our club dues go to Erasmus Sport. And while the Royal Dutch Football Association has given us a discount, it isn’t enough to cover the deficit. Right now, our members are paying dues to protect the continuity of our club.” RSRC chair Cakim recognises this conundrum: “We’re still in talks with the national union and Erasmus Sport to see how we can get through this in one piece.”

Jon de Ruijter says Erasmus Sport will be able to help the clubs when their situation becomes really dire. “We’ve heard from various clubs that finances are definitely an issue. We’re already footing a sizeable part of the bill, but if clubs are truly on the verge of collapsing, we’ll get around the table with them. I’ve never had a club ‘go bust’ on my watch.”