Den Haag: combi van expats en Hagenezen met meer dan 30 leden
When my husband was first given the opportunity in May 2015 to work in The Hague my immediate reaction was NOPE!!! Not moving again, why not? Well I had been an expat for 18 years and we had gone back to the USA & settled into a nice home and had become familiar with our handyman, our painter, our cleaner, our neighborhood. Friends and most of all discovered PICKLEBALL!!!! For someone who has led an expat life these are things that one does not become familiar with as one is always moving!
Yeap in April 2015 I played Pickleball for the first time and got hooked. Now the move would mean, selling home, packing and giving up PICKLEBALL!
Well, my husband had done his homework and found out there is Pickleball in Amsterdam and here we were, September 2015 in The Hague. I could not have asked for a better place to be, the Amsterdam Pickleball club welcomed me, taught me lots and I immediately found a my friends. Bernadette Snijders Blok was very welcoming and a great chauffeur coming to pick me up from the train stations so that I would be there playing in Amsterdam every Sunday.
As a great role model and founder of Pickleball Netherlands, Bernadette supported me in opening the Pickleball Den Haag club here in The Hague end of September 2016. So with courts booked, Amsterdam players ready to come out and support another club, Pickleball Den Haag, began its first year. There were times when we had 12 players in our first year to just 1 sometimes, however it was clear that we were going to grow the sport whatever it took.
Huge expat community
Ceci Wong and Thomas Halyn backed me and stayed committed to the sport that first year. Although we had challenges some very important learning happened in the first year:
-We stayed as part of Dutch Pickleball Association so we were independent of any other clubs that could financially support us
– Pickleball is a game of inclusion not exclusion so we wanted as many people from all over to join the club. The Hague is where a huge expat community lives, we wanted Den Haag Pickleball to be open to the expat community as well as the local community . We have players from the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, UK, Bulgaria, US, Canada,Denmark.
– With a lot of support from Amsterdam Pickleball we held our first tournament in The Hague April 2017!
-Den Haag Pickleball grew, we stayed committed, sure there were times when we struggled to understand if we should continue when I would be waiting for even one player to show up, or when 17 players would show up and the court space was that of only 12! or people did not like the timings, when it was hard to find a sporthal that was available to suit our needs, figuring out the cost per person so that we could have people willing to pay to cover cost of rental, getting people to get along with one another, etc etc.
-Yes, it is a new sport, not well heard of and introducing anything new or different is challenging however staying committed eventually got the word around and people started coming.
Full fledged club
We are now a full fledged club with over 30 members, and book court space for up geto 6 courts confidently knowing that we will not be scrambling for rent!
We have a huge Dutch contingency who love & are committed to growing the sport.
We held our first tournament with over 60 players at the Den Haag open 2019 where we had Pickleball Trips USA come and participate in the tournament.
The best compliment that night was when Bernadette said that she is so proud to see Den Haag Pickleball plan the whole tournament on our own! it was Den Haag players who organized the whole event. We worked and planned the event and were very excited to host players from all over Netherlands, Germany, Belguim and the USA come play here in The Hague.
Most of all Den Haag Pickleball is now so driven to host tournaments every year and to welcome players for a fun,Pickleball tournament in The Hague.
Den Haag Pickleball has now formed a small committee that works together to find ways to grow the sport in The Hague, to communicate and organize events, to make it fun for the Den Haag players as well as players from anywhere who come join us for play. To this end we have a team who:
– goes to all the events sharing activities offered in The Hague about 4 a year, under the leadership of Jess Hills, Phil Ryerson & Chris Leary
– looking and working with the Gemeente on outdoor play, under the leadership of Iwan Banes
– Den Haag Pickleball is also hosting its first Pickleball Clinic allowing its players to learn and better play the sport Jon Moore will be the Coach.
– Den Haag players continue to invite their friends to come try the sport, as always the first time they come it is free.
– Den Haag has social Media presence on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter
– We have become a tight knit group who is committed to a enjoying a BBQ every summer, a Holiday celebration in the winter and sometimes sadly a good bye party when one of our players leaves, part of living in the expat world.
When I started this journey I was supported by Amsterdam Pickleball, three years in, Pickleball Den Haag players continues to grow Pickleball in leaps and bounds teaching me that this sport can bring so much togetherness, one is never alone THAT is what makes Pickleball so special.
What Next? I don’t know there is so much.