In 2023, TWIN was commissioned by the Dutch National Olympic Committee * National Sports Federation (NOC*NSF) to provide guidance on their future strategy in the policy domain of dual career.

NOC*NSF serves as the overarching body for sports in the Netherlands, encompassing 77 National Governing Bodies (NGBs) and 17 associated organizations, and representing over 24,000 sports clubs and engaging 5.2 million Dutch individuals involved in sports. In their Dutch Sport’s Strategic Plan 2032, NOC*NSF aspires for the Netherlands to emerge as the “sportiest country in the world”. This strategic roadmap guides both the NOC*NSF and its constituents, providing a framework for their endeavors.

“By 2032, everyone in the Netherlands, at all stages of life and all levels of ambition, will enjoy sport on a daily basis. We will reach this goal primarily by engaging both in individual and team sports and excelling in sports and/or physical activities. But also, by extending the group of volunteers, professionals, and fans in a safe, healthy and sustainable environment. The values of elite sports will be the inspiring beacon along the way.”
Dutch Sport’s Strategic Plan 2032 (p. 6)

Towards the NOC*NSF Topsportstrategie 2032

Under the stewardship of the NOC*NSF, Dutch high-performance programmes are cultivated through an 8-year plan, now embodied in the “Topsportstrategie 2032”. This comprehensive strategy underscores the nation’s commitment to nurturing talented and elite athletes, supporting their sporting endeavors alongside their vocational aspirations.

Over the past decade, the Netherlands has witnessed significant expansion in dual career support, exemplarily via TeamNL@work), and intra-sectoral networks such as EVOT (secondary education) or FLOT (higher education); establishments that have contributed to a robust support ecosystem.

The country’s structural advancements underscore a resounding message within Dutch sports circles to further enhance the “Nederlandse Model”, thus the national dual career support system. Building upon prior engagements such as our 2019 TWIN Master Class for TeamNL@work, and our 2022 keynote at the Dutch National Sports Centre, NOC*NSF had entrusted TWIN to advise on their future strategy in this domain.

Expanding the perspective

So-called “Dual Career Development Environments” encompass systems, institutions, or programmes designed to help athletes navigate the demands of their athletic careers and transitions. Recent EU-funded research identifies eight such environments across the EU:

  • sport-friendly schools,
  • elite sport schools/colleges,
  • professional and/or private club programmes,
  • sport-friendly universities,
  • combined dual career systems,
  • national sport programmes,
  • defense forces programmes,
  • and players union programmes.

Beyond their mere existence, the performance efficacy of these environments on a national level hinges on their systematic integration, necessitating optimized collaboration across sectors. In the strategic blueprint of the TeamNL Model 2024-2032, this integrated approach is intertwined with a broader societal context, aiming to realize the “social value of high-level sport”. NOC*NSF’s commitment to enhancing social responsibility aligns with public calls for increased safety in sports (Nederland sport veilig), addressing issues such as abuse, neglect, misconduct, and harassment.

The consulting of TWIN assisted NOC*NSF to work further towards this integration. Such type of strategic vision necessitates a reevaluation of the role of dual career within a high-level sport programme, transitioning from an infrastructural service to an integral component of the national sports culture.

“The ethical design of a protective, healthy, and inclusive environment uses dual career as a main principle to set a new integrity standard in sport; a strategic move that unleashes the potential of societal development via high-level sport.”
Wolfgang Stockinger
TWIN Founder & CEO

Such a culture integrates athletic, educational, and personal development as interconnected processes, fostering both sporting and social achievements. In this paradigm, while achieving medals and trophies remains a focal point, it is within a broader framework that promotes systemic inclusivity.

Update May 2024: Download the NOC*NSF Topsportstrategie 2032 here.



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References
  • NOC*NSF (2023): The world’s sportiest nation – Dutch Sport’s Strategic Plan 2032. URL: https://nocnsf.nl/media/4dpanj5w/dutch-sports-strategic-plan-2032.pdf
  • Grey-Thompson, T. (2017): Duty of Care in Sport – Independent Report to Government
  • De Brandt, K., et. al. (2019): Exploring Dual Career Development Environments Across Europe: A Holistic Ecological Approach. Abstract book of the 27th European Sport Management Conference: Connecting sport practice and science. Breitbarth, T., Bodet, G., Fernandez Luna, A., Burillo Naranjo, P. & Bielons, G. (eds.). EASM (European Association of Sport Management), p. 533-534 2 p.
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