Ambitious Groningen sets sights on sporting excellence

Football club FC Groningen and world class skating coach Gerard Kemkers have teamed up to drive forward the club’s ambitious sporting excellence project.

Kemkers, who enjoyed huge success coaching Dutch skating superstars such as multiple Olympic and world champions Sven Kramer and Ireen Wüst, has taken the role of director of performance at Groningen’s new Sporting Performance Centre.

Providing an ultra-modern sporting facility at the club’s new Corpus den Hoorn training complex, the centre of sporting excellence, due to open its doors in 2015, aims to attract the best footballers and athletes from across the Netherlands and beyond.

‘It has been a very busy period and I had decided to take a mini sabbatical. I wanted to recharge the batteries before moving on to a new phase in my career,’ Kemkers told the official FC Groningen website .

‘It was always my ambition to take on a completely different challenge and FC Groningen have offered me that opportunity.’

Elite sport and community

As well as attracting elite footballing and sporting talent, the ambitious project will provide facilities for the local community including recreational spaces, health care, nutritional advice and a physiotherapy and sports science centre.

Securing the services of the in-demand Gerard Kemkers, who will be joined at the sporting centre of excellence by top volleyball coach Toon Gerbrands and baseball coach Robert Eenhoorn, is something of a coup for FC Groningen.

‘I had other offers on the table,’ explains Kemkers. ‘But throughout the many conversations I had with the club I felt the warmth, an ambition and the enthusiasm.

‘I am a Northerner and have always been a FC Groningen supporter. Even as a skating coach, wherever I was, I have followed the development of the club closely. This is a wonderful opportunity and I am very much looking forward to getting started.’

Ongoing discussions

The sporting performance and professional sports care centre will become the jewel in the crown of FC Groningen’s state-of-the-art Corpus den Hoorn Sportpark. However, full funding for the ambitious project has yet to be secured.

Employers’ organisation VNO-NCW North has expressed an interest in renting space in the building and the club are in discussions with various commercial parties regarding the naming rights of the sporting excellence centre.

While the club’s main sponsor, Essent, have agreed to contribute financially to the project, discussions between FC Groningen, the local authority, stadium owners Euroborg NV, and several other commercial partners are ongoing.

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