MAASTRICHT. He played as many as 347 times for the Dutch national volleyball team, including at the 2004 Olympic Games. At the moment he is putting the finishing touches to his thesis for the executive MBA Sports Management at the Maastricht School of Management. Nico Freriks (36) started as the new head of UM Sports last Monday.
He is taking over from Birgitte Hendrickx, who became a member of the management board of the Student Services Centre (SSC) as of 1 June. She was head of UM Sports for twenty years. “I watched it grow, from nothing - doing sports in gymnasiums spread across the city - to the new sports centre.”
Freriks will work two days a week until mid-July, switching to full time after that. Until recently, (in addition to being a student at MSM) he was a project manager for Youths at a Healthy Weight, (JOGG, Jongeren Op Gezond Gewicht) in the town of Horst aan de Maas, where he dedicated his time to “a healthy lifestyle for youths”.
His experience with leading doesn't only come from having been a JOGG co-ordinator, but also from his career as an athlete. “In a lot of teams, I was the playmaker. You lead, among others, the attack and need to coach and manage players.” Freriks played for clubs in ten different countries, including two-and-a-half seasons in Iran. “I ended up there through people I know. Iran is now in the top eight of the world. Volleyball is more popular than football there, because of the successes.”
Why did he choose the UM? “I saw the advertisement and everything fell into place: my past as a top athlete, my international experience, my work as project manager for JOGG and the MBA that I hope to complete this summer.” What he means to say is: the job had his name written all over it.
Does he have any new plans? He laughs: “That is too soon. This is my first day; there are so many impressions. Let me look around first.”