That’s my life and I am proudly living it. If it was easy everyone could do it: my Fulltime Job ^3. Topsport is a fulltime job in a fulltime working job in a fulltime student job.
“yet sometimes I’m wondering more and more if it’s getting in the way of my performance. But yes, I also have to live. ”
It ain`t easy to get to the top as a sporter in The Netherlands – I faced that challenge the past years for the second time in my life (and also not in any other country I can imagine and I have experienced). Topsport is a fulltime job in a fulltime job in a fulltime student job, for most of the sporters out there (it`s my fulltime Job ^3 ). Especially for the ones which don’t have a commercial team or have financial support from a sport association or ….rich parents/boyfriends/family members.
We have to earn every cent we spend ourselves. We don’t have big sponsors, loads of price money (- only for the best once’s – but to get there..), investors who pay our travels, our expenses, our daily life, university, our subscription fees, accommodation, trainings, trainers, equipment. Just if you are lucky enough a part of your gear you can get with a small discount. You got to be a teamrider for a brand – which is fun and will help you a bit. I am super thankful that F- One supports me already for the past two years in all disciplines I can ask for.
But than …how higher the level gets, how more expensive it gets, the more you have to train, the more competitions. The more difficult the material gets and the deals. A higher level means closer differences in equipment.. and maybe just not the gear you are riding with and the brand you actually ride for..and promote. Sometimes the choices are hard – or actually all the time. Competition with old gear, fighting, struggling or buy new gear and stay at home – work or train. Train and don’t have anything left over or save and survive the winter at home and participate that competition with the same skills and equipment. While you know other competitors…that train 6 days a week in the perfect conditions, have the better equipment already. And you can’t work against it anymore, while you got the talent, the skills…. And in the back of your head, it is clear in other countries they have a different approach and support their athletes way more.
Life is not fair, it’s never been – better get used to it. Your time will come: Nothing worth having without fighting for, Mum & Dad always told me. That’s what you always should remember if you ever want to give up!
A lot of people think pretty quickly: ooohh just a few competitions, a little bit of training on a tropical destination– you should have plenty of time and freedom enough! To work next to it, study and…. no clearly not.
And yet , Sometimes I ask myself what if…?? Is that the best preparation you can have..?
Living at your parents’ home (forever having a room) or that of your boyfriend who are supportive enough to not throw you out – even not when you turn into a rat.. They got your back every single day even though sometimes you won’t see it. A lot of times you’re home, because your injured or studying, working (not the most social person ever, not that as you want to be at least). But he, they will not complain. Don`t ever take that for granted if you won’t lose them, although sometimes they will help you making the ends meet. Or the friends that stay, even though you hardly ever see them or miss out on their parties, because…. your training, travelling. You really get to know the people around you, who to trust and the real friends who will stay along the way wherever you will end up..The ones you can tell everything and you really trust.
Being my own work/study planner and advisor…Double shifts, nightshifts, cycling to them in the shitty rain, straight after to training – I don`t really mind – I like it actually. The cycling to work is a part of training anyway. Following classes in the train, making exams all over the world – chasing WIFI. Playing for doctor, stitching myself, personal trainer, besides that I am a videographer, social media guru, personal cook, and above all I am a professional hustler: always lobbying for the lowest price, the best deals, sleeping in a tent or my van – trying to manage myself and everything around. Dragging all boardbags behind my for days, sleeping on the airport.
Yes I am a pretty good I “it can always be cheaper” travel agent by now, always the way less travelled and sometimes a bit scary. But guaranteed you get to know a lot of the surrounding, and yourself. Being my own accountant, bookkeeper to meet all the ends. My own social life manager, what I still suck about, blame the wind. ( I always miss out on the family things, my birthday & celebrate new year / Christmas a lot of time alone in another place and time zone…). Besides that I am also a repair guy. Splicing lines, glue-ing kites – duck taping the rest and a little epoxy will do the job. Might not be perfect, but it will work. After all I am also a car mechanic, electrician, plumber and carpenter in training, after converting a van, living in it on long road trips to training locations and competitions.
Really cozy with all equipment I can tell you 😉
Financial & Work
Teaching kitesurfing, coaching foiling, online or at the places I train, taking every job who possibly fit around training, competing all the travelling and university. No job is below you, if it pays, every penny counts. Sometimes I thought I could work more and more. Than after a few days I was tired on training weeks. That ones I do for nothing than… for a physical training block need to be rested and not full of everything. That’s where I learned what rest days are about. Sometimes I am an online teacher, some days I clean the dishes, I help people as an bookkeeper / accountant with the financial administration, other days I serve breakfast or make sure you receive a package the next morning while working the nightshift. It’s a question I got really often so I made a little story about it here!
Thankful for the ones who took that extra step extra when I couldn`t, because I came straight from that competition, or the times I had to leave early, because I had to make an exam. Or the ones that made it a bit easier, working with a broken arm. Meanwhile in what I do, I always try to give my best and do whatever I can, whatever I do. Knowing everyone has its own story – and grateful for the respect they have for mine. Thank You!
Its hard to accomplish a degree when you are never there… You got to be creative and social to arrange that. I managed to get a second master’s degree and I am studying for the postmasters degree – against all odds. So if you there is a will, there is a way to make everything work! Maybe I am a student forever.. but why hurry! Life is still long enough.
Too make travelling, competing and training on the right places easier, cheaper and affordable. I converted my van to a midget house and kite /surf /skate holiday home. It might not be always the best (rainy, cold days), but its a great way to make it work. Read more about my kitevanlife on this page.
Meanwhile, trying to find private sponsor deals, but it’s a hard task. You have to give a lot in return (clinics, presentations – I like it, let that be clear. But on the other side that’s lost time again for work, study .. or the obligatory resting days , training. And sometimes you need to be the top of the world or a pro influencer already. It`s also hard to find a brand that fits and you proudly stand behind.
Once you find a brand, it still needs to work with the other brand or organization. Or the other disciplines you practice. Besides that one little mistake or injury.. and its over again. You’re back at 0 or even less. Sometimes they already want you to be a world champion, the perfect fitness and eat guru, but you need them to get there. It’s a hard juggling game every time again.
The best is to find independent sponsors, not connected to the equipment brands, but these ones are hard in a sport (discipline) that’s still a bit unknown. But worth it, to be part the first generation of Olympic kitefoilers and inspire the future – together with the brands I already teamed up with!
Shop & blogs & Donate
Being a pro athlete, trying to fund myself, I started my own webshop with a little help from my family. Rised out of travel memories, to connect with friends and never forget each other. Inspired by the ocean & handmade. Meanwhile I am writing blogs to inspire you to follow your dreams, chase the things in life worth living for! And for everyone out there who wants to follow my journey in the Topsport, in life, on the road and in the world.
Can I tell you something just between you and me? “yes, yet I’m wondering more and more if it’s getting in the way of my performance. But yes, I also have to live. ”
And yet , Sometimes I ask myself what if…?? Is that the best preparation you can have..?
Driving 24 hours straight to the competition area after a working shift – with a quick pit stop for an online exam. Sleeping in a tent or on the couch in the cold rainy weather on an airbed trying find the right position to sleep, the tent right into your face in between your boardbags – nice and cozy…What if I slept in a better place? without people around, without snoring people, without all the lights and noise around, the garbage truck passing by in the middle of the night, I know with more rest and focus everything will be better.
While I am pumping my airbed – in the middle of the night.. the seconds on the clock are ticking, the competition is coming closer….While I am staring at the sealing and listening to my snoring neighbor and 4 sleeping people in my room.. I think about tomorrow.….nothing is less true. Without closing even one eye – I am at the starting line. And there I have to do it. No matter where I came from or what I did – this is it:
That’s my life and I am proudly living it!
Thank you guys for thinking with me in hard situations, sharing incredible moments ups & downs, working with me, supporting me everything (even if it might be a “little” crazy), celebrating Christmas, sharing rooms, floors, tens, stories, secrets, dinners, moving in the middle of the night because we got soaked of the rain, sunsets, sunrises moments, way to long and scary boat rides, being a family away from home, being a part of my journey, let me forget I am alone in this craziness … For believing in me even though I didn`t in myself some moments. That makes you realize to appreciate what you have, all small things, to be excited about what you want. I will never forget you! Just like the nice team members at work, helping me out. Giving me the easier place so I could train afterwards, even though I am just a number. For the study groups and teachers, being helpful and patient. Grateful to have my awesome family back home – for always being there for me!
I know it’s not always the best way, but it took me already where I am now. Wining competitions, training, qualifying the Netherlands for the world beach games, winning snow worldcups, freestyle tours, big air. Fighting for every place and moment. These memories, no one ever takes from me – coming this far by my own. Nothing worth having without fighting for. Mum & Dad always told me.
That’s my life and I am proudly living it. And yes that is the best preparation I can ever have! . After all the complete package is not something you just do. That’s Topsport, my life, my fulltime job^3. . No days off. But 99% I think you have a choice! I choose this life 100% and I am proudly living it!