Houten big in Utrecht

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Today we want to take you to Houten, a town of around 50.000 inhabitants 10 kilometers south of Utrecht city. There we can find Sportcentrum The Dome, a sports centre recently built especially for the local Handball Club Handbal Houten. It’s certainly not a coincidence that the colours of the building are black and yellow, indeed the same as their club colors.

I’d like to introduce you to Norbert, who is responsible for the team of people working for the pr and communications of the club.
Norbert Herremans is 47 years old and lives in Houten. He is married to Petra and they have a 16 year old daughter named Sanne and a 14 year old son named Bas. He studied Dutch language and literature at the Utrecht University and has for a very long time worked in Utrecht at a very large publishing company called VBK Media. VBK publish the books from Jamie Oliver, Roald Dahl, National Geographic and a lot more. norbert is head of the production department, which is responsible for the printing and binding of the books.

Tell us a bit about your club
Handbal Houten is a club for everyone. Young and old, people who are ambitious and want to play on a higher level and people who are playing for the fun and want to socialize. I myself am part of the second group. Every week me and my team members have a lot of fun when training or playing our weekly match. Beside that our results aren’t so bad. At the moment we are the runner up in our competition.

What attracted you to Handball?
I like the physical element of the sport. You even can call it a contact sport. Beside that it’s a very fast and dynamic sport and full of action. You don’t have to wait 90 minutes to see just one goal. No, you will see lots of them in a match!

Are you from Utrecht?
Yes, I was born in Kanaleneiland but I moved to a small town near the city called Bunnik when I was 4 years old. When I was 10 years old I joined the local handball club Celeritas because there were a lot of children in my school class playing it. I even met my wife in the Bunnik Handball club!

In these days handball was very big in the city of Utrecht. We played against a lot of different clubs from Utrecht like DWSM, HMS/Achilles, Attilla, UDSV, UHV/DSO and there were a lot more of them. Also the level of handball in Utrecht was very high. Nowadays there are only two clubs left in Utrecht: HMS/Achilles and Leidsche Rijn but happily they are also growing. After living together in Utrecht me and my wife bought a house in Houten and now both our children are also playing handball in Houten.

What is your favourite place in Utrecht?
Maybe it is a little bit cliché but when I’m driving home from a vacation or somewhere else far away and I see the Dom tower from a large distance it still feels like coming home.

How is the Men’s team doing this year?
This year our Men’s team Stipt Payroll/Houten is doing well. They are in the lead at the moment, one point more than runner up Hellas from The Hague. Next Saturday 26.01 they will fight each other here in Houten. We expect a lot of this match. I invite everybody to watch this game. It’s the big clash of the handball season and it will start at 19.00 pm.

How is the Women’s team doing?
Our Women’s team is playing several divisions lower than our Men’s team. They have a fanatical group of players who are doing their best every week. They are now ranked somewhere in the middle but they have the ambition for the next years to play higher than this.

Do you want new members?
At the moment we have around 230 members. I don’t know how handball is doing in the UK but in the Netherlands handball is growing thanks to the good efforts of the National women’s team on European, World and Olympic Tournaments and the attention on national television for it. In Houten there’s a lot of attention on the Handbal Houten men’s team. Last year they became National Champions in the Eredivisie.
Thanks to that we see more and more children interested in playing handball. And we also see every year more talented children coming over from other clubs in the Utrecht area. They want to play at a higher level and in fact there are youngsters playing in our Women’s and in our Men’s teams weekly. But everyone is welcome and you can try two months for free.

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Jon Wilkins

Jon Wilkins

Jon Wilkins is Welsh and lives in England. He is a writer. A Europhile and Remainer, he is a regular visitor to Utrecht and has set his crime novel series in the city.

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