Tragedy in Holland: Volunteering Results in Death

Tragedy in Holland: Volunteering Results in Death

It is a bitterly cold evening in Almere, a sprawling city about 15 miles to the east of Amsterdam. A biting wind sweeps across the six pitches at SC Buitenboys, where boys and girls from a couple of junior teams, training under the floodlights, tear around with a ball at their feet, seemingly oblivious to the freezing conditions.

 

For a club run solely by volunteers and which started 27 years ago with a small wooden hut, it is an impressive setup. Almere, where the first house was built in 1976, is one of the fastest-growing cities in Europe, which helps to explain why Buitenboys has become so popular. These days they have 1,175 children and 225 adults playing across 110 teams. Annual membership costs between €200 and €255 and the only person on the payroll is the cleaner. Everyone else, including all four board members, work for free.

 

Richard Nieuwenhuizen was among those parents who liked to help out at the club. A popular, football-mad father of three, Nieuwenhuizen lived in Almere with his wife, Xandra, and their two youngest sons, Mykel, 15, and Alain, who recently turned 18. Jamie, the eldest son and a former coach at Buitenboys, lived nearby with his girlfriend.

 

Mykel played for one of Buitenboys' eight under-17 teams and his father enjoyed running the line in those matches, which was what he left home to do on 2 December for a fixture against Nieuw-Sloten, a club from Amsterdam. It was a normal Sunday morning; father and son heading off to football together. By the end of the day Nieuwenhuizen was fighting for his life. The 41-year-old collapsed three hours after he was brutally attacked by a group of Nieuw-Sloten players. The following evening he died.

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