Niels Luteijn is captain of the first team of Zeelandia-Middelburg, but above all, Niels Luteijn is also the trainer of the Middelburg G football players. He has been one of the driving forces behind the G-team at Sportpark Veerse Poort for ten years. And the number of football players with a disability has grown to almost thirty in those ten years.
“That is of course a great development. G-football was started by Dennis But in 2010 and is still on the rise at Zeelandia-Middelburg after all these years. Unfortunately, there are not many more clubs in Zeeland where they have set up G-football, but the number of players who want to play football is still increasing. We now even have five girls who are active in the G-football team and that’s wonderful, isn’t it?
Where Luteijn and teammate Sander Ouwerkerk served as trainers for the enthusiastic group of G football players every Friday for years, he has now taken on the role of trainer alone. “Sander has been appointed as HJO, head of youth training, within the club, so it was with a heavy heart that he had to resign from his role with the G-team. In Melissa van Belzen I have had an excellent replacement. In addition, we also have two volunteers, Stijn and Eric, who help during the training and our events that we organize for these players. It’s just something we all eagerly look forward to every week.”
The G-team at Zeelandia Middelburg is intended for young people who are hindered in their movement options due to a physical and/or intellectual disability. As a result, they find it difficult or impossible to find their place in ‘regular’ football. To be clear, G-football is just football! The only difference is that certain football forms are adapted when necessary.
“We train and play with our G-team with very different ages, ranging from seven to about twenty-three years old. It is always quite a challenge to challenge everyone at his or her own level during the Friday training sessions. We usually divide them into two or three groups and then look at age or level. It is very nice that we can organize it this way, because this way you can keep it fun, educational and challenging for everyone.”
The players, just like Luteijn and all other supervisors, always look forward to the training moment on Friday afternoon. “Sure! That is their moment, their sporting and social meeting moment too. While one person works hard on the field, the other can especially enjoy being purely ‘present’ on the training field. Our main concern is that everyone can be who he or she is. It is also nice that it is becoming more and more important to me in the first team. Teammates who occasionally ask to help me, for example, while we also occasionally give a clinic to the G football players as a first selection. Those are truly wonderful experiences!”
The goal of G-football is to enjoy playing football, where fun comes first. “We think it is important that the players play together, participate and can play football within their own capabilities. We also try to do fun things every season in addition to training, such as attending a 1st division football match, G-team tournaments or organizing a bingo and pancake party. The gratitude and love you receive from everyone every week is priceless. In addition, they are so pure and have so much fun doing it. And when they enjoy their sport in the purest sense without any worries…. Then it cannot be otherwise than that we also get a lot of satisfaction from that,” says Luteijn.
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