ROAD TO RIO: Dutch duo on their own

The Olympics are the highest goal for almost every athlete. Dutch shuttlers Koen Ridder and Ruud Bosch form no exception to that rule. However when the the Dutch Olympic Committee […]

The are the highest goal for almost every athlete. Dutch shuttlers Koen Ridder and Ruud Bosch form no exception to that rule. However when the the Dutch Olympic Committee (NOC-NSF) decided to withdraw all financial support from the Dutch Badminton Association (BNL), the future appeared to be rather grim. Notwithstanding this setback, Ridder and Bosch opted for a fresh start with their own project, “Route2Rio”.

From four hundred thousand to absolutely nothing:  last December saw a very dim day for all who loved badminton in the Netherlands. If Dutch Olympic Committee decision wasn’t enough, the so-called “Yonex-gate” had its influence on the financial future of BNL.  The cause of this prior conflict was a contract signed by BNL with Yonex whereby all players from the national selection had to play with material from the new team sponsor, even though some shuttlers had already individual agreements with other sponsors. The situation eventually lead to a lawsuit and the cancellation of Yonex’s exclusivity.

However the plight from their association wasn’t the only reason for Ridder and Bosch to follow their own path towards Rio. Ruud Bosch explains how they expect things to work out in the upcoming months and years.

Bosch: The decision not to accept the association’s invitation is purely financial. BNL thought that the combination of Selena Piek and myself would be a great pairing with a real chance for Rio. I’m convinced we would really have had a good chance, so that wasn’t the problem. The plan our association has in mind is even a very nice one, but in my opinion they don’t have the financial resources to execute it.

Koen and I already have completed the entire Olympian qualification once and we know what is required to do it again. However, with the current financial state of affairs at BNL, this isn’t possible. Even if we had received the invitation for the men’s doubles, we probably would have refused it anyway.

Badzine: It is still a big step to take as you were sure to have had a place in the Dutch team.

Bosch: To be honest, it was Koen who took the initiative to get along with our plan. When the NOC-NSF decided badminton wouldn’t receive any governmental support, we were already prepared for what was awaiting us. It would mean the entire budget would have been cut in half and the costs would increase drastically. This is because all facilities were for free at Papendal, our national training centre. Even the trainers, if I’m correct, are now to be paid by the association.

I’ve always had confidence that I would be selected for the new national team, but kept a different scenario in mind anyway. Koen, even without knowing for certain that I would go along with his idea, started finding sponsors for our mission. So to be honest, I wasn’t very involved at that stage. Only when I made the choice to go ahead with this new idea, and by that without BNL, we sat together with our managers. Luckily they were very enthusiastic. They take care of the major part of the details, so we can focus on playing badminton.

Badzine: Will this have an effect on your collaboration with BNL?

Bosch: I still hope we can count on the support of our federation, but we will see in the near future what we can do for each other. Of course we will remain available for all the team events. For the financial part, we have the luck of being a reasonably acknowledged twosome. We have already found a new sponsor, APACS, that provides us with all material, pays the tournaments fees and pays out bonuses for any good performances. Duinwijck, a Dutch club, will help us along with our training facilities.

Furthermore, our managing team will look into every possible new opportunity that can help us along. Finally, we have found a number of individuals who assist us and will help us further along.

Badzine: Your trip started off in South America, not the most obvious destination for badminton players.

Bosch: Our main goal with our trip to Peru and Tahiti was obtaining points for our ranking and by winning both tournaments we were able to add 8000 points. So the trip we made, was purely to guarantee our qualification for the World Championships. Of course we weren’t at our peak yet, but I think everyone has an idea what we’re capable of and we will train very hard to get to the required level. After China, we will have an indication what goals need to be set.

Badzine: So far, so good!

Bosch: Yes, but with our new trip to Malaysia, we bumped into our first minor setback. At the early stages we were doing so much, we actually forgot to sign in for the Malaysian Grand Prix Gold. We really had to think of everything: doing interviews, arranging all tickets, the possible selection for the Sudirman Cup, organizing our places to sleep, etc.  We thought we had covered it all, except for our registration for the tournament.

Fortuitously we were able to add an extra week of training to our program in place of the competition and it gives us some extra time to talk with potential sponsors. We have found the people we needed, who trust us and vice versa. They will help us with Route2Rio. We are 100% behind our plan and fully motivated! I think our results in the past proved that we’re still a force to be reckoned with.

“The Road to Rio” is one of Badzine’s new features. We will try to follow different shuttlers through their journey to qualify for next Olympics. The idea is to get them to share their daily lives with their fans and Badzine readers.

About Elm Vandevorst