Student - 28 november 2013

Full halls

Linda van der Nat,Nicolette Meerstadt

The Bongerd Sports Centre is bursting at the seams. Not only is the sports hall fully booked all the time, but many students who would like to be doing sport are having to settle for a place on a waiting list. A second sports hall hardly seem like a luxury. ‘This situation is untenable.’

Every weekday at 5 p.m. the overcrowding in the Bongerd’s main sports hall is quite apparent. The hall is divided in two or even three areas and then the rigid reign of the clock begins: it’s one club after another right up to midnight. No minute is wasted. Eight large sports associations train in the main hall, often with different teams, explains Annemiek Florisson, chairwoman of the Thymos sports foundation. Thymos also holds internal competitions, for sports like football and knotsball, in which 108 teams are participating in the current academic period. Right after Christmas there are often even more teams. And there are also the one-off lessons such as Zumba, ‘moving to music’ and power dumbbell that attract so many people that they simply don’t fit in one of the small halls.

Sometimes so many people turn up to our regular training sessions that with two trainers it’s impossible to give all the members enough personal attention. And we can only use two-thirds of the main hall and that means it is not always possible to let everyone play at the same time.
Jochem Bögeman Chair of W.U.V. Stick Together – Unihockey
With seven ladies’ teams and two men’s teams we have now reached our limit. The teams are completely full with 12 match players and two reserves. Right now there are about 20 people on our waiting list. There is simply no place for them. We are already seeing that a number of them are deciding to join a city club. That’s a shame.
Annekatrien Huisman Chair of WaHo – Volleyball
Tuesdays and Wednesday are now the only days we can still play at the Bongerd. Then we have one third of the hall. That’s not enough. So on Mondays we go to the sport hall in Wageningen, on the Schaepmanstraat, and on Thursdays to the Tarthorst sports hall.
Renée Spierings Board member of Sphinx – Basketball

No more beers in the canteen
The increasing pressure on the Bongerd comes as no surprise. Compared with four years ago, the number of first-year students at Wageningen University this year was up by 57 percent, an average growth of 14 percent each year. Orion was built to meet the growing demand for study facilities, but the Bongerd Sports Centre had to be satisfied with a modest expansion of its gym.

The dozens of student sports associations, some of which have seen their membership double over the past five years, still have just the one hall at their disposal. ‘They get no extra training time, so in fact they can’t grow,’ says Florisson. As a result, many associations now have waiting lists. How many students are discouraged by this and don’t even bother to enrol, nobody knows. What’s more, Thymos fears that associations will start selecting members based on their level, says Florisson. ‘Beginners or people who don’t play competitively will be excluded.’ At the Lobbers just such a sifting process has already started. The badminton club trains once a week at the Bongerd and only competition players are welcome. The other training session is held in the Vlinder, where the beginners’ training starts as early as 5 p.m. ‘Depending on their lectures, students sometimes can’t come or they join in later,’ says the chairwoman.

There are other associations that have had to relocate to other halls in Wageningen too. This works as an interim solution, but Thymos believes that social bonding suffers as a result. ‘It means that having a beer in the canteen afterwards isn’t an option,’ Florisson thinks. ‘What is more, it costs an awful lot of money, and you have to book a long way in advance.’ In spite of this, the existing clubs don’t complain that much. ‘By now they know that they have to make do with the time they are allocated,’ says Florisson, ‘and if they want to hold a tournament even that has to be fitted into their own training time. There simply aren’t any other options.’ The same goes for an event like the Battle of the Studies, which was held last week. All sports associations lost an evening’s valuable training time. In a break with tradition, the annual obstacle course was suddenly held in a remote gym hall because there were no other options. ‘In addition, we’ve been holding our Thymos Experiences outside the Bongerd whenever possible.’

We always train in the Olympia Hall because there’s no room for us in the Bongerd. The Bongerd is always full, even if we want to play a match. We’re happy with Olympia Hall, but it’s also often fully booked. The only slots that are available at the Bongerd are the virtually impossible ones, like from 17.00 to 18.00.
Nadieh Tubben Secretary of W.H.V. Centauri – Handball
Luckily we haven’t had to turn anyone away or put them on a waiting list this year. But if all our members were to decide to come to the training session, it would be a really tight squeeze. Sometimes we fantasize about having a fabulously kitted out gymnastics hall in Wageningen. Instead we go to the Utrecht student gymnastics association once a month for an external training session because they do have just such a great facility.
Mathia Koolhout Chair of W.S.T.V. Split – Gymnastics
Our groups are too full: 13 people per group while only 12 can play tennis at the same time. In the winter we have only three courts available because then we can’t use the gravel courts. And our club has 170 members. These days it’s not unusual to have to wait courtside and take turns to play. When it is cold, that is not very pleasant.
Jesse Kuipers Chair of W.S.T.C. Walhalla – Tennis

Iemand die het maximale uit de beschikbare ruimte probeert te halen is Bongerdmedewerkster Annemieke Dijkstra. Zij is verantwoordelijk voor de strakke planning van de sportzaal. Soms zet ze drie verenigingen naast elkaar in de sporthal. Het is niet altijd ideaal, weet ze ook. ‘De basketballers trainen tegelijk met Zumba, waar de muziek heel hard staat. Maar dat nemen ze voor lief.’ Daarnaast sprokkelt ze zo veel mogelijk sporturen bij elkaar, in de tentamenweken bijvoorbeeld. Dijkstra: ‘Bij andere universiteiten laten ze tafels en stoelen na de tentamens staan, maar wij ruimen ze elke dag op zodat mensen ’s avonds kunnen sporten.’ Daarnaast zijn op initiatief van de Bongerd universiteitsbreed de tentamentijden aangepast vanaf de tweede periode. ‘Onze sporters konden altijd pas vanaf zeven uur terecht in de tentamenweken. Nu is alles een half uur vervroegd, en dat scheelt weer.’ Een andere oplossing van de Bongerd is ’s ochtends sporten. ‘De fitnesszaal gaat op donderdagen al om zeven uur open. Daar horen we veel enthousiaste reacties op.’ Ook heeft de Bongerd een sneeuwschuiver aangeschaft voor de kunstgrasvelden en de atletiekbaan. Dan kunnen buitensporters ook met sneeuw buiten trainen.


Snow shovel
Someone who is trying to maximize the use of the available space is Bongerd staff member Annemieke Dijkstra. She is responsible for the sport hall’s tight scheduling. Sometimes she puts three associations next to each other in the sports hall. She knows it’s not always ideal. ‘The basketball players train at the same time as Zumba, which plays really loud music. But they put up with it.’ In addition, she scraps together as many sports hours as possible, in exam weeks, for example. ‘At other universities,’ says Dijkstra, ‘they leave the tables and chairs in place after an exam, but we clear them away every evening so that people can do sport.’ Besides this, at her request, the entire university has revised its exam times as of the second academic period. ‘Our sportspeople were never able to use the space until 6.30 p.m. in exam weeks. Now everything has been brought forward a half hour, and that makes a difference.’

Another of Dijkstra’s solutions is morning sport. ‘On Thursdays the gym opens as early as 7 a.m. I’m hearing a lot of enthusiastic reactions to this change.’ And she has bought a snow shovel for the artificial grass pitch. So that the outdoor sportspeople can train outdoors even in snow, which leaves more room indoors for the indoor sportspeople.

Future plans
In view of the shortage of space, Facilities and Services is doing a preliminary study of the feasibility of a second sports hall. Both Thymos and staff at the Bongerd feel this is urgently needed. ‘The Bongerd is still the Netherlands’ number 1 student sports complex, and we’d like to keep it that way. This situation is untenable,’ says Thymos. But finances, space and needs must be examined carefully. In any case the floor must be multifunctional, just like in the present hall, thinks Florisson. ‘Then you can wear ordinary shoes, and that makes it suitable as an exam hall.’ The idea of the hall standing empty doesn’t worry her at all. ‘It can always be rented it out if need be because the municipality is also short of space.’

A new hall would make Thymos’s plans for the future a real possibility. ‘We are keen to see more student sports associations,’ says Florisson. ‘There are now 23; in Groningen, for example, there are 49. Football and squash are on our wish list. We have just got a new lacrosse association, and it already has 60 members.’ There is yet another reason why sports coordinating body Thymos wants an extra sports hall. ‘We are lobbying to bring the Great Dutch Student Championship to Wageningen in 2018,’ explains Florisson. ‘That’s a huge event and it would mean we really need the second sports hall.’  

In the past year we’ve had 30 people sign up. Not everyone who has joined comes to train every week. Just imagine if everyone turned up; we wouldn’t have enough space for them all to train.
Lisette Nikol Chair of B.C. The Lobbers – Badminton
We have the sports hall for two hours a week, for 60 members. On our own initiative, we’ve now got another hour at the Marijkeweg, but that hall is really too small. We don’t have a membership stop or a waiting list because the board took the decision to focus on a number of peripheral activities, such as Thymos tournaments. But really, we’d prefer to offer more korfball training, because that’s where our roots lie.
Mart L’Ami Chair of W.S.K.V. Débaldérin – Korfbal

Photo's: Sven Menschel