This summer we cheered on the Dutch Olympic hopefuls as they earned participation in the 2016 Games. But what about those athletes who did not go to Rio? What are they up to, now that Olympic medals are off the table? Few people give it any thought. But we do. As former top-league hockey players, we are your guest bloggers on this topic. Our SportMaatschappij Foundation helps these athletes make the most of their potential, during and after a career in sports.
SportMaatschappij teaches athletes about the sports-life balance and encourages them to use their precious off-time wisely
Sylvia Karres Co-Founder of The SportMaatschappij Foundation
Preparing for the future
Pooling knowledge and expertise with a selection of other organisations, ABN AMRO is helping sports talents take their development to the next level. The Talent Central programme connects talented athletes to expert guidance. The bank's partners include the SportMaatschappij Foundation. This foundation focuses on the personal development of athletes in other areas than their sports. To up-and-coming talent this might sound like something to worry about in the future – but time flies, and it pays to be prepared. That's where SportMaatschappij and ABN AMRO come in.
Top-class sports higher-paced than ever
Over the past few years, competition in top-class sports has become increasingly intense. Take, for example, the ambition of sports associations and the National Olympic Committee to get the Netherlands back among the world’s top 10 countries in terms of sports. As a result, young talents are spending even more hours a day honing their skills. As years go by, this strong focus results in less time and energy for personal development. Education, internships, and work experience are pushed to the sidelines because their schedules are packed with sports activities. As the goal remains elusive, as is the case for our Olympic runner-ups, this pattern finally catches up with the athlete.
Although this aspect of the top-class sports world is often glossed over, reality becomes painfully obvious to athletes ending their career. On the labour market they're lagging behind in comparison to their peers. While looking for ways to catch up, former athletes have to deal with emotional, social, physical and financial changes in the wake of their step back from sports.
In order to assist young athletes in managing sideline activities, ABN AMRO cooperated with other organisations to launch the Talent Central programme. In addition to the SportMaatschappij Foundation, the parties involved include Helden magazine, Talentboek, and the Sporttop Foundation. Each organisation contributes with its own unique know-how and shares this expertise with the talents. Major themes are image, money, knowledge and personal development. This year, a total of 43 promising sportsmen and women are absorbing this consolidated advice to get the best out of not only their sports career, but themselves as well.
SportMaatschappij specialises in personal development in addition to sports. Within Talent Central, the role of this foundation is to help young talents realise that there is more to them than being a sportsman or woman. The foundation draws from its experience and expertise to teach athletes about the sports-life balance, and encourages them to use their precious off-time wisely.
Masterplan: not for slackers
An important component of the SportMaatschappij Foundation's method is the personal master plan. Let's take Ginella Zerbo (18) as an example. This young hockey star only barely fell short of the requirements for Olympic participation, despite her having put everything aside to achieve this goal. As her dream fell apart, she suddenly found herself sitting at home with time on her hands, a few months before the Games. Was she facing wasted months, or an unexpected chance to do something useful? After she overcame her initial disappointment, Ginella made her decision.
Within Talent Central, she took the opportunity to develop her own master plan, founded on her personal ambitions, passions and skills. By gaining practical experience at Adidas and taking part in a photoshoot with Belgium’s national football team, Ginella found out what was needed to make her way into a marketing department someday. As she accompanied RTL Nieuws reporter Pepijn Crone, she got a literal glimpse behind the scenes of how TV programmes are created.
Time well spent
The Talent Central programme prepares talents for their future careers. SportMaatschappij specifically encourages sportsmen and women to get some hands-on work experience, prior to deciding which way they want to take their non-sports careers. Ginella has experienced the benefits of that: first of all she has had the opportunity to fully participate in society for a while. Later on, she can apply that practical experience when further important decisions have to made. And thirdly, in the short term, the programme gave her the boost she needed to re-enter the arena with a fresh and healthy drive. It was time well spent; now, with the dream of Rio behind her, she's ready and set to keep doing sports at the highest level.
Eye for life beyond sports
Time is a valuable commodity to any talent, but especially top-class sportsmen and women. As such, organising their scarce spare hours away from the field, hall, or track becomes a major priority. An athlete needs something to fall back on, if things aren't going their way or if a sports injury takes them out of the running for a while. Sideline activities should yield experience that's applicable to life after their career in sports as well. Expert guidance is required here, and the business world has exactly what's needed. With its Talent Central programme, ABN AMRO is leading the way.
SportMaatschappij encourages companies and organisations to open their doors to sportsmen and women, and inject some winning mentality into their workforce.. As companies provide an athlete with a scholarship and targeted development path, the athlete can reciprocate by contributing to an inspiring knowledge session where the meaningful lessons from sports are translated and integrated into employees’ everyday working experience. These extraordinary talents enter 'retirement' from their sports careers with full confidence, using their experience as a springboard into an environment where medals are not the only measure of success.