Since I was a small child, I had an interest in volleyball. After my Physical Education study I started giving training to several teams and after a few years I made the choice to focus on being a trainer/coach. Through nearly 40 years I have trained talented youths and teams, both men and women, at all levels through go the Dutch national league.
Back in 2004 I was introduced to Sitting Volleyball (now seemingly called ParaVolley) by Jouke de Haan. At that time I was the head of the technical commission at our club and he was invited in to tell us more about this form of volleyball. Right from that first moment I was sold on this different form of the game and Para Volley took a place in my heart.
From that time, I became more and more interested and involved in the disabled sport generally. I attempted to start a new sitting volleyball team at our club, but it only stayed together for 1.5 years. I then visited the 2005 European Championships as a spectator and in 2007 I was asked to train the Netherlands mens national team. I did this for about 3.5 years and we competed at 2 European Championships (Hungary 2007/Poland 2009) until I resigned in 2010.
In 2010 I was asked to be an instructor and tutor for the WOVD and as part of that in February 2010, I organized a Woman’s Qualification tournament in Nairobi (Kenya), where together with Joze Banfi we also gave a small coaching course. Then in 2011 I started the Foundation called “I Support A Coach”, which supports coaches and trainers in developing countries by delivering courses and materials.
In June of that year I became involved as a voluntary coach with the Rwanda Men team and I bought my ticket and went to Kigali (Rwanda), not knowing what to expect. Since that time I have lead this team through Sub Sahara qualification into the Paralympic Games in London. After the Games the assistant coach and I have split and Jean Marie is now leading the men and I have started a woman’s program with Rwanda.
In May 2013 I was a tutor for the first ever official World ParaVolley Level 1 coaching course in Nairobi (Kenya). Together with a few other coaches we set up this course for the WOVD and I look forward to seeing how it develops.
My advice to someone who is just starting to deliver sitting volleyball would be to stay positive, look for your chances, make your choices and be consistent in what you want to achieve. It is a beautiful sport and a great challenge for a coach. Until now I don’t regret my choices for one second. I still love the sport, the people involved and I relish being a part of it as it moves forwards.