Photographer:Fotograaf: Loraine Bodewes Fotografie
Maastricht’s most international sports club
We won’t find them at traditional Maastricht student associations, all those foreign students. But will we find them on the football pitch or on a sailing boat? The search for the most international student sports association is on.
Maastricht University likes to show off its international character. But what is international? It is true that the UM has many nationalities, but the Germans dominate, certainly at the School of Business and Economics. The same can be seen in student sports associations: for example a handful of Belgians, a Finn, Dane or Romanian, sometimes a Saudi or a Peruvian, but mainly Germans.
Take the badminton players from Heep, with thirty members: more than one quarter is from Germany. At Kinran, 32 per cent of the karatekas are from Germany. But they are topped by handball club Manos: of the 41 members 25 are German. Manos chairperson Christina Leuker is also German, like almost all of the board. “Handball is very popular in my country. Many Germans have been playing it since primary school.”
Going back in time to October, when Observant asked sports council MUSST whether they could provide the figures for the various Maastricht student sports associations – number of members, nationalities, percentage of foreign members, et cetera. MUSST put this to the associations, but not everyone was enthusiastic, for example because they thought they would not be considered anyway. “We only have three different nationalities,” was handball club Manos’s initial reply. The hockey players, with three nationalities, declined too. Some did not respond at all, not even after a second attempt, as with the lacrosse association Maaslax. Eventually twelve associations took part in our little survey.
According to Observant, the most international club does not only have a large number of nationalities in its midst, but also relatively many foreign members. Unfortunately, the ideal association that combines both criteria, cannot be found in Maastricht. The honour is therefore shared by the Red Socks football players, with 21 nationalities, and handball association Manos. No less than 63.5 per cent of the handball players are from abroad.
As a ball game that is popular and played around the world, football does very well. The Red Socks teams, from a club that has 220 members, include Belgians, Finns, Brits, French and Croatians. Their sixth team is even completely German. But dancing association Let’s Dance is on the right track too: 90 members from 15 nationalities. Almost the same applies to rugby club Maraboes. Rugby is originally from England, one of the best rugby countries in Europe, in addition to France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales. “It is a popular sport in Romania as well,” says Valentin Ciocan, Maraboes Romanian chairman. “The Romanian national team does well in European competitions, much better than the Germans for example.”
For the rugby players – just like for many other sports associations – the Inkom sports day provides one of the most important opportunities for recruiting new members. A major advantage is that they always use English, both during training practice and at social events. “It makes it easier,” reckons Inge Bookholt, chairperson for karate association Kinran, which has approximately an equal number of foreign members and Dutch members. “Karate is a sport that is practiced worldwide, even though it is not terribly popular. The fact that we speak English is a huge advantage for many foreigners.” Trainers and players also speak English on the Manos handball playing field. “Now and again the coach may use a Dutch sentence, but that is usually as a joke or to tease,” says Manos chairperson Christina Leuker. “Handball is a team sport, it makes no difference what nationality you have when you are on the pitch. Integration is going very well. After a training session, Dutch players do not sit in one corner, while the Germans sit in another.”
Twelve of the 22 Maastricht student sports associations that are affiliated with sports council MUSST submitted the information requested, which consisted of the total number of members and an overview of the different nationalities.
Membership lists with more than ten nationalities could be found among the rowers of Saurus (14), the rugby players of Maraboes (15), football club Red Socks (21), volleyball club Fyrfad (11) and Let’s Dance (15).
The largest concentrations of foreign students can be found at handball club Manos (63.5 per cent), karate club Kinran (54.5 per cent), and the Maraboes (52 per cent).