A look behind the scenes: visiting Natasja from the YouthTC

This post is also available in: Dutch

With some sand in our hair and between our toes, we order a drink in the canteen of the Sportcentrum Zuiderpark. This is my first year of beach volleyball, but not for Natasja, who has had her feet in the sand for many years now. Another thing Natasja has been doing for many years is chairing the Youth Technical Commission.

In this ‘look behind the scenes’ we take a closer look at the Youth Technical Commission (hereinafter YouthTC). Because even though we now have quite a few youth teams, many know little about them. And so, on this Tuesday evening after our own beach volleyball training, Natasja and I chat about the Sovicos youth. Of course we start with reminiscing when we played as youth ourselves. Both not at Sovicos, by the way, but that should not spoil the fun.

As I take a sip of my beer I feel some grains of sand crunch between my teeth. Keeping my mouth shut while playing beach volleyball is not quite my thing yet. And neither is it Natasja’s thing, who now talks full of energy and enthusiasm about the youth of Sovicos.

A short introduction

But, before we talk about youth, I want to know something about Natasja. Natasja has been playing at Sovicos since the season of 2018/2019. This season she does that at Ladies 5. But let’s go back a little further. Did you know, for example, that Natasja was born in Willemstad on Curaçao? Her father worked there for three years, after which they returned to the Netherlands to live in Beneden-leeuwen. Natasja lived here until she was 12, before they moved again to a warm island, this time Aruba. Three years later they returned to the Netherlands. For good.

When Natasja went to study in Leiden and was looking for a house in The Hague. Cheaper, and she knows now; also much more fun. She is really enjoying herself in The Hague, although she did notice some distance between her and the city in the beginning. This was mainly because she spent a lot of time in Leiden during the week because of her studies and visited her parents and friends in Beneden- leeuwen at the weekend. Since she started playing volleyball at Sovicos, The Hague has truly become her home.

What does YouthTC do?

It is not surprising that she is committed to the youth at Sovicos. Natasja is an English teacher at a secondary school, so she is good at dealing with children / youth. Also for her the reason to volunteer for the youthTC. After all, it is her expertise. She saw Firoz and Matthijs (at that time youthTC) doing a lot and they indicated that they could use some help, so when she registered at Sovicos, she also joined the youthTC. Of course we like to hear that. But what does the youth TC actually do?

“The youthTC, like the TC, takes care of the team divisions, providing a framework for youth training sessions and we maintain contact with members and parents. We also divide the tasks among the parents, of course children have no tasks, and the parents only have to count during a match. We also try to involve them in coaching and therefore have many conversations with the parents to motivate them. We notice that there is quite a bit of distance to the club and we try to make it smaller by giving the parents small tasks in the hope of making them bigger and bigger”.

The nice thing about this is that Natasja thinks that the youthTC is becoming more and more of a well-oiled machine. She likes to see the children grow in the sport and she also really enjoys giving training, which is not part of her task as youthTC chairman btw.

The tasks of the youthTC

And you read that right, Natasja is not only part of the youthTC, she is its chairman. The tasks at the youthTC are clearly divided. Firoz is responsible for all registrations that come in, Lotte supports in every way and Yvonne makes the link between youth and seniors and is the contactperson for parents (eg if they have questions or if there is a conflict). Natasja is the chairman of this nice group of people. And as chairman she is the contactperson between the youthTC and Lieke, who is a board member of Youth Affairs. She also delegates tasks and initiates a plan when things go wrong.

And sometimes things go wrong. For example, Girls A had other priorities this season, so they were often absent from the matches. This gave Nicky, our competition coordinator, an extra weekly task. Natasja then initiated a conversation with the team and the parents and a solution was found. The second half of the season, the motivated girls from MA1 will play along with Boys A, which results again in a complete and motivated team that will play fun matches.

The goal of the 2022/2023 season for the YouthTC

Great, of course, when a problem is solved so well and reasonably easily. But that’s not really what Natasja wants to do. Natasja hopes to achieve this year that the parents of the children become more involved in the club. That they become enthusiastic and that they volunteer. That is her goal for this season. Furthermore, Natasja is very happy with the ‘Youth TC gang’, as she calls the Youth Technical Commission. “I hope we will be in the YouthTC together for many more years”.

And when is Natasja dancing on the table?

“When I see parents cheering on a game that I have not seen before. It is often the same parents who come to cheer for their children. I think that’s a pity. Of some children I have never seen the parents. So I will definitely dance when that happens.”

Last but not least, we now have a lot of youth members and more and more are added. From January we will play again with 3 youth teams and 2 mini teams. We always need trainers for that and there are too few of them. “It’s really great fun, we always eat together on Monday evenings, you can use a lot of creativity and you can really be busy on a technical level with volleyball. And if you don’t feel like or have time to come up with a training? No problem, I make trainings every week!” So, do you have time on Monday evening to give training to enthusiastic children? Send the YouthTC an e-mail or contact one of the members.

So, after this nice conversation it’s time to wash away some of that sand between the teeth with a drink. Bye!