UM Sports itself doesn’t have and sports fields, so it was quite a job to find good training facilities for all the associations. But we managed to do so, more or less. The first eleven Maastricht student sports associations have already trained together outside this week; next week another seven will follow. In addition, there are of course online sessions. By UM Sports itself, but also by the sports associations. Dancing association Let’s Dance, for example, started eight online courses two weeks ago. For some sports, such as climbing at Maassac, it is very difficult to find an outdoor location, says Ivanka Smitsmans from UM Sports. “They need a climbing wall, or mountains.”
Observant spoke to three sports associations that are allowed to exercise outside in groups.
The Hippo’s korfball players
They are a small sports association, 42 members, but they are very close, says Guy Breuls, chairman of the Maastricht student korfball association De Hippo’s. They have not been allowed to train together for the past eleven weeks, but next Tuesday, 9 March (Tuesday being their regular training day), they will be back on the korfball field in Amby. Members can’t wait. “When I sent the WhatsApp message that the field at KV Maastricht had been arranged, we had ten registrations within five minutes.”
Normally, they are with about twenty korfball players per session. Breuls is banking on that now as well. “We don’t have to adhere to the 1.5-metre distance during training. But should anyone have a problem with that, we will adapt to the situation. We have enough exercises ready, but in that case, we can’t do little matches among ourselves. But I do expect that everyone will want to exercise, as was the case during the previous lockdown. What is a little strange, is that we do have to keep our distance before and after a game.”
The hippos have stayed in contact reasonably well over the past months. “Our activities committee is very active. Recently, we had an online escape room event.” But there have also been online drinks, a quiz and games. As well as a few Zoom workouts. “It enables you to stay in shape, to some extent.”
The Ferro Mosae triathletes
The Ferro Mosae triathletes – approximately seventy members – found themselves together again on the athletics track in Jekerdal (see photo) on Wednesday 3 March. With a maximum of twelve people, says chairman Meinte Koster. “With this pandemic in mind, we don’t want to make the group too large. We have a lot of talks with Uros, the student athletics association that also trains at Jekerdal. We follow the same guidelines.”
His members have not been able to swim lately because the pools have been closed and the open water is still much too cold. We have managed to cycle and run, although always with a maximum of two. As far as the cycling goes, that will remain the case: you are not allowed to exercise with more people than that in a public space. But on the athletics track, this is different. Koster: “You miss the feeling of being part of a group. It is not only fun to train together, but hard physical exercise also takes your mind off things.”
The tough thing is that it is not clear when competitions can start up again, “You prepare yourself for a triathlon using a training schedule. The competitions for April were cancelled last week. Now we can only hope that they will be permitted from May onwards.”
The Fyrfad volleyball players
The Fyrfad volleyball players – twelve teams, about a hundred and fifty members in total – are still waiting on an answer from the Maastricht city authorities on Thursday morning, 4 March. They are looking to see if there is a field somewhere in the city for them to train, says technical co-ordinator for Fyrfad Amínatta Argalaless. In the spring of 2020, after consultation with UM Sports, they were able to use a field at the primary school in Amby. “We didn’t have a net there, but we could do a kind of bootcamp with a maximum of thirty members.”
After the summer, everything briefly returned to normal and Fyrfad was able to use the UM Sports hall again, we were even able to partake in competitions. But the next lockdown followed in October and they were only allowed to be with a maximum of four, which later changed to two volleyball players in the hall. Halfway through December, that also stopped.
A lot has been done online this past year, things like a pub quiz, an escape room event, a Bob Ross workshop, but nothing can replace the ‘normal Saturdays’ when all the teams play competitions against each, all the while encouraging each other and then afterwards meeting up in a pub. Also, the annual members weekend in Belgium is sorely missed. Fortunately, the influx of new members has not suffered under COVID-19. “We were positively surprised, we even had to put some on the waiting list.”
So now we are just waiting on the city’s decision: “We are grateful for any piece of grass,” emphasises Argalaless, who is hoping that they can start training this weekend. A couple of hours later on Thursday, UM Sports provides clarity: just like the Manos handball players, Fyrfad is able to train again in Amby. Next week.