Go for gold: government must take sports more seriously, new report warns

The Dutch men celebrate their European hockey win. Photo: KNHB/Willem Vernes

The Netherlands will fail to produce enough top ranked sports men and women unless the government changes policy on encouraging sports, two government advisory groups said on Tuesday.

The public health institute RIVM and socio-cultural policy think-tank SCP say in a joint report that the Netherlands will be ‘overtaken in rankings and medals tables’ if action is not taken now.

In general, the report says, the Dutch are not taking part in enough sport for good health, classic sports clubs are coming under pressure as membership declines and the pool of volunteers dries up and there is insufficient movement from the lower to upper ranks of sporting prowess.

While the greying of the population has a role in this, youngsters also prefer to spend more time in front of a computer than on the sports field, the report says.

The report, which was commissioned by the ministry of health and sports, calls on national and local government, sports associations and other interest groups to embark on a major consultation exercise to ensure the Netherlands continues to take sport seriously.