How can Para sports get even better on the radar of sports marketers, media, companies and decisionmakers in the sport? In Ahoy, the organization of the European Para Championships opened the door on Thursday for the sport marketing congress of the Netherlands, SportNXT.
With over 400 pre-registrations, the congress could already be called a success, but in the course of Thursday morning it became clear that the enthusiasm for the speakers was actually great. Among others Michael van Praag (currently chairman of the Dutch Sports Council), Esther Vergeer (former Wheelchair Tennis player and chairwoman of the Esther Vergeer Foundation), sports marketer Bob van Oosterhout and NOC*NSF director Mark van den Tweel share their stories in Rotterdam.
Among other things, the speakers in Ahoy will make connections between socially relevant issues, Para sports, able-bodied sports and recreational sports. Developments in the sports industry, including the increasing focus on Para sports, are touched upon by various speakers.
At the start, Eric Kersten, initiator of the European Para Championships, was put in the limelight by Raymon Blondel, president of the European Paralympic Committee. Kersten, founder of event organizer Team TOC exactly 25 years ago, is one of the first in the Netherlands who had an eye for organizing large-scale Para Championships. He also came up with the concept whereby ten European Championships in Rotterdam this month were merged into the EPC2023. This was clearly appreciated by those present in the hall.
The SportNXT congress was one of many meetings organized on the periphery of the European Para Championships. Bringing stakeholders together during events naturally increases the attention paid to – in this case – Para sports. Those who have attended a Para sports event before were once again confirmed in the idea that the sport has undergone a great development, also for the visitors of the SportNXT congress this day will probably open eyes. After the congress they can attend the semi-finals of wheelchair basketball, among other things, and take a look at the Para Badminton and Shooting Para Sport in Ahoy.
Dutch Paralympic Participants Association
During the congress there was also time set aside for the official establishment of the Association of Dutch Paralympic Participants (VPND). This new association is for all athletes who have represented the Netherlands at the Paralympic Games and is the Paralympic counterpart to the Olympic variant that has been in existence since 1984. Since the first Paralympic Games in Rome in 1960, about 750 Paralympic athletes have represented the Netherlands. Until now, there has been no association that binds participants in the Paralympic Games – even after their active sports career. The association aims to honor and appreciate Dutch Paralympic athletes, strengthen their mutual bond and propagate the Paralympic idea. The VPND wants to achieve this by, among other things, organizing activities for its members, stimulating interest in Paralympic sports in the Netherlands and promoting integration between Paralympic and Olympic athletes. Prince Pieter-Christiaan revealed the VPND-logo.