Sport is important to maintain good mental and physical health, but it's also a great chance of socialisation. Learn more about it!

Football (Soccer) has the largest following in the Netherlands, but other popular sports are tennis, golf, speed skating, field hockey, swimming and cycling.
A traditional Dutch favourite is ice skating. Whenever the temperature drops below zero for several days in a row and the lakes start to freeze over, the Dutch become excited as it means there's a possibility of an ‘Elfstedentocht’, a traditional ice skating tour which passes eleven cities in the North of the Netherlands. The tour, almost 200 km in length, stretches over frozen canals, rivers and lakes between eleven historic Frisian cities, amongst which is Leeuwarden. Any time the weather allows it, this tour is held. The last editions of the Elfstedentocht were held in 1985, 1986 and 1997. The tour would typically feature about 15,000 amateur skaters taking part and it requires high quality ice. The regulations state that the ice must be (and remain at) a minimum thickness of 15 centimetres during the entire tour, in order for the race to take place. The Dutch also love to watch ice skating on television.

Sports in Leiden

Leiden offers a great variety of sports to join, whether you want to train in your preferred discipline or try out something new. In the latter case, the Team Sports of Leiden Municipality organises introductory courses in collaboration with local sports organisations. The courses may request a small fee to join, are directed at completely beginners and are meant to show the basics of a sport and give a taste of how joining a regular class looks like. The initiative is called Sportkennismaking, and you can find more information on their website.

You can also find an overview of local sport associations below.

Local Sports Associations

Please let us know if you find additional websites (Leiden and in the partnering municipalities) with English information and we will update this page. 

Dutch Orange

Whenever the national team engages in international competitions - orange mania reigns. People dress in Orange, raise the national flag and decorate houses and streets as a patriotic feeling of athletic superiority floods the nation. The orange has been selected as the national sport colorin reference to the name of the Dutch royal family - Orange.

More information on national sports can be found via NOC*NSF, the national Olympic committee.


Children and Sports

It's important for children to stay active. In the Netherlands children often join a sport association outside of school. 

In primary and secondary schools, physical education lessons (gymles) are provided to promote physical exercise. Children participate in different kinds of sports such as basketball, football, gymnastics or swimming at least once a week. They are expected to bring their own sportswear.  

Extracurricular sports are not automatically part of the school system. The greater part of organised sport in the Netherlands takes place at the sports clubs at the local level. Most Dutch sports clubs are run by volunteers. Equally important, a sports club is a democratic organisation run by the members themselves. Most sports clubs are members of national sport federations.  

From a young age, children join sports clubs as Dutch schools do not really cater for organised sport. Parents should bear in mind that enrolling children at such clubs is not cheap, but it will give you and your children access to a wide range of local social networks and contacts.  

Of course, with this social access you get the club duties too. Members are tacitly expected to help with bar work, catering, cleaning or training, for example. Besides the sport, there are usually social events and to run all this activity, there is an almost trade union-like hierarchy, with no shortage of committees and office-bearers who manage the club and take care of official matters.

Children playing

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