Meet Utrecht’s USVV Odysseus ’91

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Lisa at USVV Odysseus ’91 gave me the inside track on her cluib. She is 24 years old. This is her sixth season playing at Odysseus. She’s playing in the 5th Ladies team and this season she is also on the board of the club. Lisa lives in Utrecht and studies at the Utrecht University of Governance.

I asked Lisa to tell us a bit about her club:

“Our club is named USVV Odysseus ’91.The name refers to the year that it’s founded (1991) and to the never-defeated Greek hero Odysseus. We have approximately 450 members (80-90% of whom are students) between 17 and 35 years old. The members are divided over 11 men’s teams and 8 women’s teams, all playing on a Saturday.

In the men’s and women’s department we distinguish selection teams and recreational teams. Odysseus has been profiling itself for years on the Utrecht fields as an association where sociability and performance-oriented football are combined. Besides soccer we also organize a lot of activities for our members, like parties, tournaments and even a ski holiday! That’s what makes us a unique club in our city.

The highest man teams play in the ”Tweede Klasse” and our highest ladies team plays in the “Hoofdklasse”, we are really proud of this high level because only students can become a member of our club and the composition of the team changes a little bit every year. The lower teams don’t play at a high level but they do really enjoy the game and everything else the club has to offer.”

So it’s a big club with all those players?

“The 19 Odysseus teams are spread over the men’s and ladies’ branches. We have 11 Mens teams, they are called Heren (Gentlemen) 1 through to Heren 11. And the Ladies squads are called Dames (Ladies) 1 through to Dames 8.”

They would like to be able to accept new players but at the moment they are at full capacity, but at the very end of each season as part of their membership leave University or the club they then have places for new players. So, at the end of the season they organize two training nights for everybody who wants to join the club and play in the following season.

What attracted you to play football?

“My whole family is addicted to football. Even my mom played the game in her younger years and my dad still plays football and gives a lot of soccer practice. I really like that it is a team sports and that it is crucial to really work together and become a team. We watch all the games from FC Utrecht and watch a lot off soccer games on TV.”

If you coach, why are you involved?

“Yes, this season I’m also coach, this is my first time. I give practice to the 8th man team and try to be there when they play their games. I really enjoy them getting better and seeing how they are becoming more and more of a team. They are doing really well in the competition and are also very good in drinking beer together after the games!”

Lisa comes from Utrecht. She was born and raised in the city!

What is your favourite place in Utrecht?

“Of course I like the sportsbar at the Uithof, where all different kind of (student)sporters come together to have a drink after their training or matches. I also really enjoy walking besides the canals and have a drink on one of the terraces at Ledig Erf.”

Does Utrecht inspire you?

“Yes, it does. I love the city and even though I have lived here already my entire life, I still see new things and really enjoy the city during all different times of the year.”

Does Utrecht as a city do enough for sport in general?

“They really do a lot to get all of the inhabitants into exercising. Being a student club makes us special, the city could do more to help us with our facilities. We have a lot of people who would like to join our club, but at the moment we cannot expand because our training capacity is fully used. It would be our pleasure to be able to facilitate soccer to all of the students who are willing to.”

What about women’s football, do they give you enough support?

“Women’s football is still growing and of course we notice that the amount of women who want to play soccer at our club is still growing. We are looking for ways to make it possible for them to practice and in the most ideal way also play matches but this is difficult. Two times a year we organize a football course specially for women who don’t have a lot of football experience. They get 10 trainings from girls of our highest team and after they play a match against our lowest women team. It is a lot of fun and most of them get sold to the game.”

It’s good to see so many young people playing football and that a Students club has such a high profile, not only in Utrecht, but in National circles. The volunteers, like Lisa , do a fantastic job and if doing all this alongside their University studies is not a show of commitment to the cause I don’t know what is! So well done Lisa and all at USVV Odysseus ’91!



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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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