Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken

Dutch Diplo Talk

Centralized youth sports training: a key to success

31 Aug 2015

Last week Dafne Schippers won the gold medal in Beijin for running the third fastest 200 m in history.

Last week, 23-year-old Dafne Schippers surprised the world by taking the 200m world gold. Only three months after she decided to exchange the heptathlon for the 100m and 200m, she had already challenged the Jamaican hegemony. Her golden race turned out to be the third fastest time in history with 21.63 sec, after Florence Griffith Joyner and Marion Jones.
Last week Dafne Schippers won the gold medal in Beijin for running the third fastest 200 m in history.

The Dutch were not very-well known for athletics, and the same goes for baseball, although the professional American players know better. Last week I was invited to celebrate the 90th birthday of Bill Arce, a legend in both the United States, the Netherlands and Italy. He started with clinics in the Netherlands in 1962 and specialized in youth training. Many American baseball players and coaches came over to the Netherlands, where they lived with Dutch families, to teach the Dutch the game.

‘The Netherlands is the nr. 1 baseball country in Europe’
Bill Arce returned in 1963 and 1971 as our national coach, and helped the Dutch to win the European championship. Apart from this crucial American influence, there are 2 other reasons why the Netherlands is the number 1 baseball country in Europe and the number 5 in the world: some 30 percent of our players come from the Dutch Caribbean (close to Venezuela, Cuba and the Dominican Republic) and baseball is one of the summer sports at elementary and high schools.

Soccer and speed skating have proven it is centralized youth training that realized the Netherlands to achieve top positions. Thanks to to the American example, centralized youth training for athletes and baseball players also are a great tool to achieve astonishing results. With Tom Dumoulin leading in the Vuelta of Spain, I know which sport should be next: cycling.

This blog was posted earlier in Hugo’s Weekly.

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  • 31 Aug 2015, 20:03
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About the author

Hugo Von Meijenfeldt
Written by Hugo Von Meijenfeldt

Consul-General in San Francisco

Hugo von Meijenfeldt was appointed as representative for the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the 13 westernmost United States in August 2013.

Prior to his current position, Hugo was Deputy Director General at the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment. He also served as Special Envoy for Climate Change at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 2009 until 2013. In this capacity, he led Dutch participation in global diplomatic activities to reach a climate agreement.

Previously, Hugo was Director for Soil, Water and Rural Environment. For several years he held the position of Deputy Director for International Affairs, Chairman of the Committee on Environmental Policy of UN-ECE Geneva, and Head of the European Policy Division (including the EU Presidency in 1997). From 1982 until 1991, he was Legal Counsel to the soil clean-up division.

Hugo earned his Masters in Public Law and Policy at the Free University in Amsterdam in 1981. He is member of the WorldConnectors and the Sustainability Challenge Foundation.