Inclusive sports and physical activity in the Netherlands

Examples of inclusive sports and physical activity in the Netherlands


With the OldStars programme, the Dutch National Elderly Foundation strives for senior-­friendly sports environments by starting sports clubs and introducing adjusted sports activities such as walking football, basketball, hockey, handball, rugby, tennis, and table tennis.

Old Stars OldStars allows elderly people to participate, meet new people, do adjusted exercises, and become active at a sports club as a trainer, group leader, or volunteer.
Fun, the social aspect, and autonomy can be tackled and brought back to the life of elderly people through participation in sport. OldStars’ philosophy is founded on the following three pillars:

  • Physical fitness: health risks are reduced by enabling seniors to participate with an adjusted fitness level. Any OldStars training has a format that is supported
    by the Athletic Skills Movement strategy that chooses several movement forms, instead of the form that fits the sport. OldStars also organises special days for trainers.
  • Social fitness: the programme lowers the threshold by free demonstration days for the elderly. Trainers can see the social part as part of the training. Also, the elderly can become OldStars trainers themselves.
  • Strategic fitness: OldStars is a national movement that serves as a catalyst. We stimulate local cooperation and use the network of sports associations to reach more sports clubs. We also support the organisation of national events to facilitate the movement towards senior friendly sports clubs.


Life Goals: sport as a participation instrument

The Life Goals foundation stimulates vulnerable people to participate through sport. We focus on people who are stuck in life for whatever reason: homeless people, people who suffer from addiction, refugees, teenage mothers, former prisoners, or people who suffer from mental health issues. They all share the desire to get a better grip on their lives. The foundation uses sport as a means to make people move again.

instrumentThe Life Goals foundation stimulates vulnerable people to participate through sport.Participating in sport within the regular infrastructure is hard for these groups. Therefore, we developed the necessary tools to engage local municipalities, clubs, and healthcare institutions in facilitating sport activities for these groups. We believe in local ownership by educating local organisations and professionals to adequately apply our methods. We have educated more than 200 professionals to become a Social Sports Coach. They are the motor of our programmes and they apply methods that focus on the personal development of participants and help them tackle challenges such as homelessness, addiction, illiteracy, and criminal behaviour among youth. In recent years, our coaches have directly contributed to the development of over 5,000 people.


Alliance Equal Playing 4.0. for serious acceptance of LHBTi+ in sports

The Alliance Equal Playing 4.0. is a cooperation of organisations to advance theacceptance of LHBTi+ people in sport.

The John Blankenstein Foundation is a partner, along with the Football association, the field hockey association, NOC*NSF, and the Foundation Pink Soccer Fanclubs. The alliance is supported by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW) and the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS). In November 2018, the Alliance Equalplaying 4.0. was launched with a national conference meeting. The purpose for 2028: complete acceptance of LHBTi+-people in sports in the Netherlands.


‘Come, join me’ offers new perspectives

Many people can’t enjoy sport because of physical or social inabilities, even if they would want to. In the project ‘Come, join me’ (Dutch: ‘Ik neem je mee’) these people are linked to sport ambassadors, in order to lower the threshold for people towards a sporting life.

Come, join me

Sport and physical exercise are not accessible to everyone. Some people experience obstacles to exercise due to health problems or physical or mental disability. Some have little money or do not feel comfortable in a sports environment. The exercise programme ‘Ik neem je mee’ tries to link people with a physical or mental disability or other issues that reduce their possibilities to sport to a sport ambassador, who occasionally helps and motivates.

The sport ambassador is an athlete who knows what it is like to enjoy sport and likes to help someone else to experience this as well. Sport ambassadors vary from elite athletes who perform at the Olympic or Paralympic Games in Tokyo, to competitive athletes who just want to contribute.


Unique Sports maps supply and demand of disabled sports

‘Unique Sports’ is an online sport community that maps the supply and demand of sport for the people with disabilities.

nl‘Unique Sports’ is an online sport community that maps the supply and demand of sport for the people with disabilities.They can be helped by Unique Sports (Dutch: Uniek Sporten) to find a suitable sport in their region. Unique Sports consists of a website and an app for people with disabilities, their immediate surroundings, and sports clubs that connect them to information and to each other.

Since 2016, 3,400 clubs, 5,600 activities, and 3,750 locations have gathered on the platform already. Our goal is to reach 1.7 million people with disabilities and their environment to get them to exercise structurally. Unique Sports offers services to support people with disabilities in starting or continuing sport such as crowdfunding, sport advice, tools, accessibility of accommodations, and much more. The online community received around 1 million unique visitors from the start of the campaign in September 2017.

Unique Sports forms regional partnerships that promote sport for people with disabilities. These partnerships support sport providers who want to offer sports for the disabled, and also help people with a disability to find the right sport. In this way, athletes and sports providers can connect.