Following two years of covid misery, student sports are flourishing again. In fact, flourishing as never before: the number of student members of sports association has exploded, according to Henri ten Klooster, head of Sports Centre de Bongerd. Together, the associations increased their memberships by 800 over the last two years.
When the lockdown was imposed in March 2020, the number of students with sports rights rapidly declined. Students stayed at home, away from Wageningen. This was reflected in the sale of monthly sports rights, says Ten Klooster. ‘And we compensated the members with annual fees, by refunds or offering them a discount on renewal.’
Instead of the customary 30 per cent, now over 43 per cent has a sports association membershipHenri ten Klooster, head of Sports Centre de Bongerd
That decline in sports is now history. ‘We are at the level we had before corona, meaning that 55 per cent of the students have sports rights.’ Still, there is a profound change. Many more students have become a member of a sports association. ‘Instead of the customary 30 per cent, now over 43 per cent has a sports association membership.’
Outdoor sports in particular, such as football, cycling and tennis, show a steep increase. Football club GVC saw their numbers (114 at present) more than double in two years. The same goes for cycling association Hellingproof (98 members), tennis club Walhalla (314 members) and climbing association IBEX (178 members). The latter also benefited considerably from the completion of the climbing hall.
According to Ten Klooster, the increase can be explained by the lack of social contacts during the pandemic. ‘Students became aware of the importance of joint activities and of being a part of something.’ But, he also sees a new trend. Sports associations are increasingly becoming student associations. ‘They offer similar benefits.’
‘There is a significant increase in cohesion within the associations’, Ten Klooster continues. ‘There is a growing tendency to develop other initiatives in addition to sports, and they are managed more professionally. A great development.’ Rowing association Argo, the largest association by far, broke the trend with a decline in the number of members to just over 400.
This extra influx of so-called affiliated student-athletes (affiliated to a club) means De Bongerd is in need of additional space and coaching. The executive board has made funds available. Extra space is found by diverting some of the competitions to korfball association Wageningen’s sports facility Binnenveld in the new academic year.