Ambassador Schuil ready for "biggest ever" world champs
Schuil, who retired in 2013 after eight seasons on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour, is not the type of man to take a step back from the sport he dedicated almost a decade to. So when it was announced that the Netherlands would host next year’s premier beach volleyball tournament across three different cities, it was an obvious transition from player to organiser.
“I’m responsible for everything that happens in Amsterdam and will be there all day,” Schuil explained. “I speak with the sponsors, I’ll be responsible for the VIPs. I’ll also be responsible for the players of course if there are any complaints. But there won’t be anything to complain about.”
A busy 12 months lay ahead and plans for the competition already under way. The 2015 edition will be spread across three venues for the first time, with action also taking place in the Hague and in Apeldoorn. Schuil is happy taking on the challenge, though, especially when it comes to creating a unique event in an equally unique location – Dam square in the centre of the city.
“Right now it isn’t so busy. But for next year it will be nice because the stadium will be much bigger. There will be more people and more sponsors because the tournament is much bigger. I’m looking forward to it.
“The location in Amsterdam will be used until the quarterfinal. It is is really nice and the knockout matches will draw a big crowd. I hope some good Dutch teams play there. It will be fantastic.”
And the idea of taking beach volleyball away from the Hague and introducing it to new crowds in the Netherlands is an added bonus in his opinion.
“You always have the Hague where they always play,” he added. “For Amsterdam it’s new and for Apeldoorn it’s new. Apeldoorn is a volleyball city; maybe the biggest one in Holland so there will be a lot of crowds. I like the idea of three or four venues. The players like it. It’s not so much on the beach and there is a not as much wind.”
“We want to create the same idea that was at the London 2012 Olympics.”
Schuil is no stranger to playing on some of the biggest stages in beach volleyball. He won 16 medals on the World Tour including nine golds in 76 appearances alongside Reinder Nummerdor. But he is well aware that there is some promising young talent currently coming through the ranks and hosting the World Championships will help cultivate it further.
“When we started playing it [participation in the Netherlands] came up and to a point where it was pretty big. It’s getting bigger every year and will continue to get bigger, especially after next year when there will be lots of publicity.”
The 2013 World Championships was a successful one for the Netherlands, with Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen clinching a sensational gold medal in Stare Jablonki. So is a podium finish in front of home fans on the cards?
“Yes that’s definitely the goal,” Schuil said. “If you can become world champion in Poland you can also become it in Holland. They [Brouwed and Meeuwsen] proved that they can play really well. Not only them but also the young team [Christian] Varenhorst and [Jon] Stiekema as well as [former partner Reinder] Nummerdor, who I know better than anybody. He has a good young partner also. I think it will be really interesting for the Dutch teams, as well as on the women’s side.”
But although beach volleyball is close to Schuil’s heart, he doesn’t see himself returning to the sand any time soon although he admits it is physically possible.
“I think that if I practice every day I could still play until Rio, like other players such as Emanuel and Ricardo,” he admitted. “They’re all 40-years old and can do it. But then you have to practice every day. Last year I didn’t do that because I couldn’t do it anymore. Physically I could, but mentally not. It was the right time to stop. But then I didn’t know about the prize money yet. If I knew this for sure I would try one more year!
“I think I quit at the right moment though.”
He is also happy to see former partner Nummerdor playing again. He joined up with 19-year old Steven van de Velde at the Stavanger Grand Slam earlier this year and they are building towards the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
“He still wants to play and he’s practicing hard,” he revealed. “He’s 37 so he can play until Rio. I really hope they qualify because they need an Olympic medal. After London he deserves it.”