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Sports

Sports in the Netherlands

Even though most schools don´t have an extensive sport program for their pupils, they are encouraged to join sport clubs. There are a lot of local sport clubs which are well organized.

If you consider that 5 out of 10 people are registered to a sport club it is fair to say that the Dutch love sports. The most popular sport to play and watch is without doubt soccer. The Netherlands knows many international soccer players such as, Johan Cruyff,
Ruud Gullit, Frank Rijkaard, Ruud van Nistelrooij, Edwin van der Sar and many more.

Another popular sport almost every Dutchman has practiced at least once in their life is ice skating. If the winter is cold enough, the waterways freeze which makes everyone come out of their houses and skate on the ice.
Ice skating is a part of the Dutch culture and this also shows in the number of Olympic medals Dutch ice skaters have won. Yvonne van Gennip for example won three gold medals in 1988, Rintje Ritsma is a 4 times World Champion and Jochem Uytdehaage won 2 Olympic gold medals in 2002. Even toddlers learn to skate by using a chair to hold on to. Every year there´s excitement over the Eleven Cities Race which takes place in the province of Friesland in the north of the Netherlands. This is a traditional race in which anyone can participate. The tour, almost 200 km in length, is conducted on frozen canals, rivers and lakes between the eleven Frisian cities: Leeuwarden, Sneek, IJlst, Sloten, Stavoren, Hindeloopen, Workum, Bolsward, Harlingen, Franeker, Dokkum and finally again Leeuwarden.
Since this race is held on natural frozen ice, the temperature has to be very low. Due to several causes, the Eleven Cities raced hasnt been held in a couple of years now. However, in December 2007 there were a lot of lakes and waterways that were frozen long enough to enable iceskating! Other popular sports in the Netherlands are: cycling, handball, basketball, tennis, badminton, squash, gymnastics and volleyball.

Hockey is also a popular sport in the Netherlands but is generally seen as a sport for the upper class society. The Dutch women's national field hockey team is the most successful team in World Cup history, since they won the title 6 times. The Dutch male hockey team has won the world cup three times.


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