‘Impact of Sport’ lecturer Frank van Eekeren wants to change the playing field

In most cases, sport is teamwork. Sport is working together with your teammates and/or your coach to achieve an even better performance in a physical environment. That’s why doing your inaugural lecture ‘#Changing the Playing Field’ digitally feels almost unnatural when you are a lecturer in ‘Impact of Sport’. A remote inaugural lecture. And yet Frank van Eekeren managed to make a special event of it on Thursday 26 November. He gave his speech in the form of 3 videos, all recorded in the Morgenstond district in The Hague. Each one of these videos provided enough material to keep the conversation going during a lively talk show with very enthusiastic guests.

The talk show was attended by local residents as well as NOC*NSF Chair Anneke van Zanen and top-class athlete Khalid Choukoud. The Hague’s alderman for Education, Sport and Outdoor Space Hilbert Bredemeijer and Professor of Public Administration Mark Bovens also made valuable contributions. Marijn de Vries, former professional cyclist and sports columnist for the Trouw, was an excellent moderator for talk show guests and other interested parties. She did not need a VAR for this.   

Making a difference

How can sport have a positive impact in society, in the neighbourhood? The research area of Frank van Eekeren and his team is The Hague Southwest and especially the Morgenstond district. A district which is home to some 150 nationalities and has many sports facilities. This district borders directly on Zuiderpark and Zuiderpark Sports Campus. However, research has shown that the involvement of residents in the district is poor. At the same time, only 30% of them feel at home in this district. So how can sports organisations make a difference? Check out what Frank van Eekeren has to say about that.

Binding forces

“Sport unites us all!” Definitely a nice statement from a lecturer in ‘Impact of Sport’, identifying sport as a means to increase the involvement of residents, as a platform for valuable encounters. However, anyone who watched the video above has also heard the big ‘but’ Frank van Eekeren mentions. Provided that you can facilitate encounters through sport, how do you make them valuable in a society that is, by definition, not homogeneous? How are you going to make use of the binding forces that, fortunately, are also present? Take a look at what the lecturer in ‘Impact of Sport’ has to say about this in the video below.

More than just facilities are needed

Researchers, within the setting of a living lab, need to be very close to the district, i.e. their research object. By being right where the change needs to happen, they are able to come up with new insights and develop new forms of sport and collaboration. As a result, the involvement of residents in a district such as Morgenstond can be increased through valuable encounters and sport can have a real impact on an entire society. The necessary facilities are already in place. Just think of the beautiful Zuiderpark Sports Campus and all the small sports fields that are scattered throughout the neighbourhood. But in order for sport to have an impact on society, you need more than just facilities. Check out what Frank van Eekeren has to say about this in the third and final video of his inaugural lecture.  

Broad and open research field

The inaugural lecture by Frank van Eekeren, lecturer in ‘Impact of Sport’, provided an interesting sketch of the broad field of research that is open to him and his research team. Much can be achieved when we are all prepared to change the playing field. The talk show guests are all confident that sport can significantly contribute to a vital and inclusive society. Opinions differ as to how this can be done, but this is a question that they can confidently entrust to lecturer Frank van Eekeren and his team.