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Gay Sports Clubs Offer Sociability And Serious Competition

by Sybilla Claus in Health & Body , 02 July 2016

Dit artikel is ook in het Nederlands beschikbaar
length: 5 minuten

Approximately thirty sports aficionado’s gathered around the pond in Oosterpark. Here, long-legged Marleen of sports club DGLA (Dutch Gay and Lesbian Athletics) coaches a one-hour running training. She does so in a relaxed and positive way, making sure even this reporter, who hates running, is having a good time.

Yet, the training is challenging enough for the more experienced members of DGLA, which according to their T-shirts, has been founded fifteen years ago. And why are you here today?, I ask DGLA’s Frank Ebbink: “I have to, because I’m the one who organized the event today,” he smiles. Motivation? Check!

For the first time ever, various gay sports clubs introduced themselves on Saturday, May 21 in East Amsterdam. Visitors could participate in outdoor running trainings or sample indoor volleyball, basketball, yoga, tennis, hockey, squash, and self-defence (Krav maga). In total per week, approximately one thousand residents of Amsterdam exercise at a club for lesbians and/or gay men.

The novelty is that these sports clubs have united in an umbrella organization to become more visible and attract new members (see People can now request a coupons booklet which entitles you to join one of these clubs for the rest of the year without paying a fee and free of obligations. Except for the above mentioned sports, this is also possible, in alphabetic order, for fitness, rugby, water polo, and wrestling. Being a couch potato is no longer an option!

Below, a tennis player, a swimmer, and a bridge player tell us about the reasons they chose a gay games or sports club.

Tennis at Smashing Pink

Last year, Yassin Hazzout (25) started playing tennis at Smashing Pink, the world’s largest GLBTQ sports club with approximately 280 members. The club was founded around twenty years ago and rents courts near Amstelpark, on the edge of Amsterdamse Bos. Smashing Pink has been in the KNLTB competition for quite some time, and with multiple teams. “From the age of eleven, I played tennis for four years in De Bilt and was browsing the Internet for an interesting club. A gay club for some connection with people with the same orientation. You can wear whatever you want and scream whatever during rallies. There’s no funny looks.”

There is a difference with “regular” sports club, Hazzout thinks. “You develop friendships to socialize. We can talk about certain things, which is not the case with straight people.” The atmosphere at Smashing Pink is very nice. “Newcomers get a warm welcome and get introduced. There is a group of starters called Tennis Talent for getting partners, playing matches, and getting to know people. I even got a welcoming present. Early April, there is a breakfast with other new members, after which you play each other immediately.”

What are your ambitions in tennis? “I always want to win, so it is also about competing for me. Getting the most out of it.” It’s like riding a bicycle, it never gets rusty. “So after all these years, I’m getting back in the game.” He calls on new members to do try Smashing Pink. “There are no divas that muck about, it is serious tennis with fun people.”

Gay Swim

Saskia Bosch (51) was regularly swimming at Marnixbad around the corner from where she lived. Her work behind the computer had given her neck troubles. “But just swimming laps is boring, and you’re not learning any new skills. Also, it is very crowded. Last summer, a friend asked me to participate in the Love Swim in the Amstel river.”

This event was organized by Gay Swim, one of the gay and lesbian swimming clubs in Amsterdam. “The water was cold and quite wild, but I had no problem swimming the 750 meters.” A coupon for five free lessons got her to join. “Once in the pool, it was love at first sight.” Saskia sums up the advantages: it is nicer in a group, and because of the lessons in technique, you learn a lot. “Now, I have no problem with the twenty-five meters butterfly and turning.”

The lessons at Gay Swim are diversified. There are multiple trainers, you get emails informing you what the focal point is, making it easy to chose from the four different options per week (at the Marnixbad and the Sloterparkbad).

“I had been swimming by myself for three years, and had never realized there was such a thing as Gay Swim.” She very much likes the open atmosphere. “They truly welcomed me. They say hello, and ask for your name.” Initially, she was afraid she might not be good enough. “But there are many levels, and each level has its own zone. There is no pressure to perform above your level, but there is room for mastering skills.”

Bridge Club Gay Forcing

Mark Koese (51) is a member of the nearly twenty-year-old bridge club Gay Forcing, with nearly one hundred members playing on Sunday afternoon. He started playing bridge at age fourteen because of his parents. “I like it because there are so many aspects to it. You play with a partner against another pair. There’s a certain jargon, and you bid before playing. The higher you bid, ten for instance, the higher the chance of winning a lot of points.”

Mark tries to explain this complicated game, but this reporter does not get it. “It is all about making calculations, thinking, and bluffing. Opponents try to mislead you, to play your ‘contract’ in a smart way, keeping an eye on all fifty-two cards,” he explains.

It is a serious game, and you don’t hear laughter. Often, Mark sees “fight pairs.” By the looks of it, this modest bridge player is quite good. With some hesitation, he finally admits that he is. With another, mixed club he plays in the country-wide competition. Gay Forcing’s level is a bit lower, but it is more relaxed. “People do laugh here.” And if you like older people, this is the place to be: young bridge players are uncommon.

For more infomation about the Amsterdam Gay Sportclubs,
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In our youngest issue, Gay News 342, February 2020


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