No showers and freezers out: sports clubs in dire straits due to rising energy bills

Heating the canteens, showering in the changing rooms and lighting the sports halls are putting increasing pressure on the budget of West Frisian sports clubs due to rising energy costs. Some clubs have to tighten their belts, while others are busy with sustainability. “It’s a race against time.”

Korfballclub Ados from Hoorn is suffering from the increased energy prices. Measures are being discussed to reduce costs somewhat. For example, the board recently decided that members are no longer allowed to shower. This starts after the weekend.

“A far-reaching decision, we agree with that,” explains chairman Pascal Kraijer. “NAfter exercising, members want to sweat it out, take a shower and drink a beer, but that may not be possible now. The social aspect gets a touch, mbut it’s just impossible to do otherwise. Last year we already increased our contribution by 5 percent. Still, that doesn’t make a difference.”

Another measure that the board will implement is scaling down the refrigerators and freezers. “Because every little bit helps, they are turned off. That does mean that there are less supply than what our members, visitors and parents are used to from us.” The room lighting also goes out immediately after cleaning up. “We are not going under yet, but it is a pity that the government has not yet responded to this,” says a dismayed Kraijer, referring to the survey of the Register of Association Directors (RVVB) foundation.

This shows, among other things, that hundreds of sports clubs are struggling to balance the budget due to the high energy bills. The RVVB therefore urges measures to be taken, such as setting up an emergency fund. These proposals will be discussed next week during the debate on the government’s sports budget. Minister of Sport, Helder, recently announced share those concerns.

Race against the clock

Table tennis club Disnierats in Hoorn is also in the water now. Although they are busy requesting quotes, making the building more sustainable will take some time yet. “We hope to have the plan completed by the end of the year,” hopes chairman Rob Schram, who has been playing table tennis with the Disnierats for 40 years. “But material shortages, too few staff and long waiting lists cause delays and postponements. Until then, we have a huge problem. It’s a race against time.”

It causes major headaches for management. Schram: “Our energy costs have tripled. And that is a big problem for an association with only 110 members. In the past we paid 10,000 euros in a year. Now that is about 30,000 euros. A big gap: if we still have to pay for a year, we will go bankrupt and our reserves will run out. This makes it almost impossible to stimulate sport and exercise among the elderly.”

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Sustainability as a solution?

Sustainability can be one of the solutions. This is also the case with RK EDO from De Goorn, which has more than 400 members. “We cannot escape it either and are affected by it,” says chairman Max van der Gulik. According to him, energy costs have quadrupled in the past season. “But we have a lot of financial room to work on sustainability. We recently installed a heat pump at the football club, which was installed at the end of October. This allows us to heat the entire building without gas, which is certainly not an unnecessary luxury in these times .” The roof of the grandstand is also full of solar panels.

If you step into football association Hauwert’65 from Hauwert, the members are still warm. Thanks to 30 solar panels, a mowing robot and a fixed energy contract that they can cling to, energy prices have not yet skyrocketed. Although the permanent energy contract expires in a year’s time, chairman Eelco Groen does not see any problems for the time being. “We are a small association, so there is not much showering. And the heating is not switched on during the week. We are only really open on Sundays.”

Schram of table tennis association Disnierats does not yet know how the higher cost item will be absorbed in the meantime. An increase in the contribution causes mixed feelings. “The cWe will increase contributions slightly from next year, but in small steps. Not all members have a lot of money to spend, we don’t want to lose that. We are in a split. Everyone is already struggling financially due to the increased inflation.”

In Venhuizen there is tennis at De Drieban. The installation of solar panels also provided the necessary effect here. “But if we look at gas prices purely now, then it is a different story,” said chairman Dennis Koomen. “The gas bill has gone from 200 to 900 euros. It is worrying.”

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