The Netherlands - a paradise for sports fans
Football is the most popular, most watched and arousing the strongest emotions (including the negative ones) sport in the world. It comes as no surprise that the orange jersey of the country’s national team, which has won the European championship and has been runner-up three times, appears before most fans’ eyes when they hear the phrase ‘sport in the Netherlands’. The names of great players such as Johan Cruyff, Ruud Gullit, Frank Rijkaard, Marco van Basten, Dennis Bergkamp, Patrick Kluivert and Wesley Sneijder also come to mind, as do the names of the three most successful clubs, that is Ajax Amsterdam, PSV Eindhoven and Feyenoord Rotterdam, who regularly play and achieve success in European cups.
Meanwhile, apart from football, the most widespread sports in the country of tulips are cycling (road and track) and speed skating (figure skating, surprisingly, does not have too many followers). Their representatives massively win titles at international events and break world records. Among the best-known male and female cyclists are Tom Dumoulin, Mathieu van der Poel, Anna van der Breggen and Annemiek van Vleuten. Whereas the stars of speed skating are Ireen Wüst, Irene Schouten, Sven Kramer, Jorrit Bergsma or Koen Verweij, whom Zbigniew Bródka beat by 0.003 seconds to win the gold medal at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Athletics is also strong, with representatives including Femke Bol (who won a silver medal in the 400m hurdles at the World Championships, which ended a few days ago), heptathlon athlete Anouk Vetter and Sifan Hassan (two-time Olympic champion in the 5,000m and 10,000m runs), and swimming, currently the domain of Ranomi Kromowidjojo and in the past of Pieter van den Hoogenband.
So why not take advantage of your stay in the Netherlands to learn about new sports, visit a variety of sporting arenas, from football stadiums (including those hosting lesser-known teams such as Vitesse Arnhem or Twente Enschede), swimming and speed skating tracks (e.g. in Heerenven) to velodromes, which are oval cycling tracks. It can also be an unforgettable experience to cheer on your favourite road cyclists at the Amstel Gold Race or to watch Formula 1 drivers, including 2021 world champion Max Verstappen of the Netherlands, compete at Circuit Zandvoort.