TEAMKPN Sportfonds makes special sports performances possible

In 2021, the esports team for Rocket League, the mixed kitefoil team and the Ivo de Bruin bobsleigh team can count on the support of the TEAMKPN Sports Fund to realize their ambitions. Since its foundation in 2015, sixteen national sports teams have already received support from the fund. Many of those teams have put in exceptional performances. For example, the national men’s volleyball team reached the World Championship in 2018 for the first time in sixteen years, subsequently achieving A-status with the NOC*NSF. Another exceptional performance was that of the 49er Class yachtsmen. They received support in 2018 and 2019 and have now – surprisingly – qualified for the Olympic Games this year in Tokyo.

A first for the TEAMKPN Sports Fund: support for the Dutch esports team
The esports team that will represent the Netherlands at the Intel World Open 2021 in Tokyo for Rocket League can count on support from the TEAMKPN Sports Fund. Rocket League is a game in which players drive a vehicle with which they can score goals on a pitch that resembles a football pitch. It is the first time that the fund has supported an esports team and it is also the first time that a team will represent the Netherlands for Rocket League.

Dutch players such as Jos van Meurs and Hrant Yakoub have been among the world’s best for many years. They play for foreign teams but currently have no platform and corresponding facilities to play for the Netherlands on the world stage. They are coached by the Dutch Esports Academy (DESA).

“Esports is organized differently from traditional sports, but that doesn’t make the commitment and success of the players any less special,” says Sanne de Zwaan, one of the founders of DESA. “We very much want to contribute to the success of esports players and to making esports more professional, starting with the Rocket League. This is a game that has become a tried and trusted esport and is one of the two games selected for the Intel Open in Tokyo, with ten seasons of esports competition and annual prize money of several million.”

Mixed kitefoilers aim for top 10 at World Series 2023
The second team that can make substantial progress this year is the mixed kitefoil team. They aim to be among the best in the world and to claim a top 10 spot at the World Series 2023 in The Hague. In mixed kitefoil events, national teams comprising a man and a woman compete in a relay format. The winner is the first to cross the finish line of the set-out track. This latest form of kitefoiling is making its debut at the Olympic Games of 2024 and will be the fastest Olympic discipline of the sailing program. The kitefoilers, also known as riders, achieve speeds of 80 kph even in unfavorable wind conditions.

Serge Kats, manager for top-level sport at the Watersportverbond (Royal Netherlands Watersport Association), says: “To help the Dutch national team become one of the best in the world we have to raise the bar even higher in 2021. The Watersportverbond is continually investing in coaching talented youngsters. With the support of the TeamKPN Sports Fund we can now invest in the best experts, training partners and training courses.”

Olympic ambitions of Ivo de Bruin bobsleigh team achievable
For the second successive year the TEAMKPN Sports Fund is supporting the Dutch bobsleigh team led by Ivo de Bruin, because the fund’s selection committee considers the team’s Olympic dream achievable. The progress made by the team last year is clearly visible. Qualification for the Olympic Games would restore the Netherlands to the top level of bobsleigh and could lead to an exceptional performance at the Winter Games in Beijing in 2022.

The bobsleigh team, comprising pilot Ivo de Bruin and brakemen Dennis Veenker, Joost Dumas, and Janko and Jelen Franjic, is delighted to have received a grant from the fund. “The TEAMKPN Sports Fund is enabling the team to focus on good results,” says pilot Ivo de Bruin. “The difference between the top teams is so small that winning or losing is determined by small details in the start, the materials or the number of training runs. With the team and our coaches, we have the drive and potential to continue making progress this season and to improve. Thanks to the partnership with the TEAMKPN Sports Fund, the extra funds enable us to obtain the support we need to achieve our ambition of getting to Beijing.”

Excellent performances for the last six years
Since the foundation of the TEAMKPN Sports Fund in 2015, the fund has supported sixteen national teams in sports that are recognized as top sports or international match sports, but that are not front-line sports. The sports teams utilize the temporary support to achieve an outstanding performance such as taking part in a World Championship or qualifying for the Olympic Games.