Development

Jeroen van Dijk at Selection Camp in Holbæk, 2 May 2017.
“I can do more as a head coach than as a manager”
Date: 5/22/2017 11:40 AM
Published by : Emma Lollike
Jeroen van Dijk has a recently stepped into a new role as head coach of Centre of Excellence. He leaves the Sport for All commission’s work behind and goes back to something he knows very well; high-performance badminton. 

As the development manager of Badminton Europe’s office, van Dijk has a lot of experience with the smaller and less developed Member Associations. This provides him with an insight in what they need and struggle with on a day-to-day basis, which he believes can help him when trying to develop their best players.

“In my role as a development manager, I became the leader of courses which meant I had to present a lot, learn new teaching skills. All this I am using all the time now both with the players, and, talks with people in trying to develop everything [surrounding the centre].”

Besides a past in development, van Dijk’s experience with high-performance badminton is more from prior knowledge. He started his professional badminton career when he was 18 years of age and retired 11 years later. He managed to reach a career high ranking as no. 6 in the world in men’s singles.

In 2000, van Dijk moved to Denmark to live with his Danish wife and work as a coach. He took the Danish coach education courses and worked as a coach for the Danish badminton clubs Nivå Kokkedal, Skovshoved, and, Greve. Meanwhile, he also managed to finish a 2-year secondary education, and had plans on continuing his studies until an offer to be a part of the German national team came to him in 2005, which he could not resist. 

7 years in Germany
Looking back on his time with the German national team brings back very positive memories for him. Huaiwen Xu became a German player right before van Dijk arrived in Saabrücken, and his main tasks became to take care of the men’s and women’s singles. He describes Xu as a “fantastic badminton player” and together they achieved many great results including two European championship titles and two world championship bronze medals. 

“It was great fun” he says with luminous eyes, “And because of the good results we were able to build and improve the whole system [in Germany]. And then, I was able to focus even more on men’s singles, where I had good results with Marc Zwiebler and other players.”

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Marc Zwiebler has a European men’s singles bronze medal in common with his former national coach. 14 years after Jeroen finished third at the European Championships, Zwiebler did the same in 2010. The two of them were rewarded for their teamwork once again in 2012, when Marc won the only European gold in men’s singles for Germany. 


Back to the role as a coach
Van Dijk was a part of the Centre of Excellence project from the early stages. As the development manager, he is doing work for the High Performance Commission and he was in charge of organizing the pre-selection and selection camps.

The first camp was the pre-selection camp, organized in December 2016, in Vejen. Van Dijk hired coaches for the camp and invited all the players. He conducted individual conversations with each and everyone one of them and was, with assistance from the coaches, a part of the evaluation process when players were selected to the next camp.

From the office, his day-to-day work was to find the final coaches, players and location. He took part in all the locations inspections across Europe, and the negotiations leading up to the final decision, which was made by the Board of Directors.

When all came to all and the advert for a head coach was posted, it only seemed natural to let Jeroen van Dijk continue in a leading role of the centre, especially, in this tough phase of getting it established. Since he already possessed all the information already and has the same understanding as the Board on what is needed to bring this project forward, he was, shortly before the selection camp this May in Holbæk, announced as the head coach. 


“I think that I can do more as a head coach than just as a manager for the project. For me, it was very interesting to take it on even though I know that it is a very difficult role to fill in.”, he says.

With the acknowledgement that there is tough and challenging road ahead, he feels good about being able to give one hundred per cent into it. And most important of all, he believes in the project. Van Dijk can now, with full commitment, start to build up the structure of the centre. 

“I am head coach now, that was a step in that direction [building the structure]. The next step will be to get assistant coaches and to start up the relationship with our partners. We have Stenhus Gymnasium that is helping us out and we have the Badminton college at Stenhus [Gymnasium]and Holbæk badminton club. And we want to make the best advantage of those two partners.” 

The new head coach of Badminton Europe’s Centre of Excellence has a lot to do before the opening on 1 September 2017. He is ready for the challenge and looks forward to taking the centre forward and get more European countries into high-performance.

Read more about the Centre of Excellence here.
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