Good chance that soon, on one of the many sports fields or squares in Rotterdam, boys and girls will be running around in shirts worn by true European Para champions. Employees and participants of the European Para Championships collected sportswear and materials for Sportspullenbank Nederland. Reusing the items contributes to a sustainable economy. And above all, dozens of Rotterdammers who are unable to buy their own sports gear can now exercise and participate.
At the European Para Championships (from August 8 to 20 in Rotterdam) 1500 athletes with disabilities from 45 European countries participate. They compete for European titles in ten different sports. The event ends on Sunday. To leave a lasting memory in the city, the organization sought cooperation with Sportspullenbank.
Sportspullenbank Nederland collects used sportswear and materials and makes them available through social organizations to people who have too little money to buy their own gear. EPC2023 deeply appreciates the initiative of Rotterdam’s Erna Truijens.
Eric Kersten, organizer of the European Para Championships, became very impressed after visiting the Sportspullenbank, in the HAKA building on Vierhavensstraat in Rotterdam-West. “The dynamics there, the contact with all kinds of cultures and groups in society, the visibly loving work; we were really immediately gripped.”
From a sustainability point of view, Kersten likes the idea that sportswear that is redundant after the event now gets a second life and does not end up in landfills. Clothing worn by his staff and volunteers, and the shirts donated by referees, officials and athletes, among others, are without exception of high quality. “That, too, is a kind of legacy. Surely, as an event, you want to have an impact on a city, leave something behind. In this case, in the form of sportswear, that is quite literally. Especially knowing that these clothes end up in good hands is very nice.”
Truijens and Kersten, after a first meeting early this year, were immediately on the same page. Truijens: “We are both pioneers, daredevils. Eric set up the European Para Championships, dared to organize such a large sporting event for top athletes with disabilities. And we lead the way in sports stimulation for all Rotterdammers. We have made contact with the street here in Rotterdam, which is so important.”
Truijens has contact with about eighty charities and institutions in Rotterdam and the surrounding area where the clothing and other sports items are accepted in gratitude. The importance of sports is great, Sportspullenbank tries to promote exercise. “Sports is so much more than that hour of exercise at the club. It is participating in society, belonging somewhere, feeling fit and happy, and of course staying physically in good shape. This can be done at a club, but it can also be done in the neighborhood, on the square. But then you need sports equipment. And therein lies the challenge for many more people than we think. The lack of sports equipment should not be an obstacle to exercise and thus to participate in society. Exercise and participation should be possible for everyone.”