The tournament starts in Albania’s capital Tirana on 25 June. The Wageningen football teams are jointly seeking sponsor deals to fund their participation, materials and travel expenses, says one of the two team captains of the women’s team, Judith Alkema (29), who recently graduated in Environmental Sciences.
Teams from the 25 European universities are to participate in the European Championships, Alkema says. ‘From Barcelona to Valencia and from Zagreb to Bristol. And for the first time: Wageningen also.’ The teams qualified during the Great Dutch Students Championship (GNSK) last summer. A first, but also a lot of things to organise. ‘The tournament is expensive. Participation costs 75 euros per day and amounts to some 725 euros per player with the registration fees included. Then there are the outfits and other materials and the trip. Being from Wageningen, we plan to opt for sustainable travel over land rather than by plane. All things included, our participation will amount to approximately 40 thousand euros.’
The football players have approached a large number of funds, organisations and boards within the university, she continues. ‘We represent WUR, so we assumed the university would support us. However, as football teams, we do not fall within these organisations’ rules, which prevents them from supporting us financially.’
‘The fact that no Wageningen football team has ever participated in the EC means that an infrastructure to organise such a participation is also lacking.’ So it is up to the teams to figure it all out. ‘Luckily, Sports Centre de Bongerd is helping us with training and materials. And we reached out to the university board last week. They are going to investigate whether there are options available to support us financially.’
The teams have contacted over thirty organisations for sponsoring, Alkema says. ‘And, for the women’s team, we are discussing with Adidas to see whether we might be included in their Breaking Barriers programme, which focuses specifically on women’s football.’ From May onwards, the teams will also organise fundraising activities.
The women’s team is currently training with the men’s team from 17:45 to 18:45 hrs each Wednesday. ‘This is to prepare us for physically strong opponents’, Alkema explains. In addition, there are running and sprinting training sessions during the lunch breaks three times a week. Both teams are to participate in the GNSK football tournament that is to be held in Wageningen at the end of May. Alkema: ‘A perfect dress rehearsal.’