RKSV Leonidas has been overtaken by time. The illustrious football association ceases to exist. Geert Hof (interim chairman of the Leonidas Facility Foundation) gives a one-off and exclusive explanation of that painful but inevitable decision, in the context of social developments and with association chairman Bart Kreft at his side.
Why is this decision taken?
‘As an association, we have been overtaken by time and social developments. We ran into problems from an organizational point of view because we were unable to mobilize enough volunteers. Financially, that would have led to a shortfall of 100,000 euros in the coming season. In the coming seasons that shortage would have increased rather than decreased. ‘
Which social developments?
‘In the first instance, depilulation naturally played a role. As a result, Catholic footballers no longer came naturally to Catholic football clubs such as Leonidas and Aeolus. We coped with this because we remained a warm association, with a good youth academy and selection teams that played at a high level. Subsequently, the wards where most of our members came from change. This also changed the character of our club. We responded well to this in the first instance. Leonidas was an example of successful integration. But in the course of time it presented us with organizational challenges that we could no longer face. ‘
‘Most of our members also started to see the club more as a kind of gym where you can come and play football against payment of the membership fee. This requires a ‘product’ that we simply could no longer deliver at a reasonable cost. Our accommodation alone was not sufficient for this. But the willingness to work as a volunteer for the club also disappeared, as did habits in involvement of the parents of our youth players, going to the cafeteria and watching the first team. All in all, the conclusion might be that the association model has survived itself, especially in the big cities. ‘
How difficult was the decision?
It was as painful as it was inevitable. An era with endless beautiful memories and friendships is coming to an end. But we really couldn’t do otherwise. Moreover, we like to place this decision in the right proportions. The world has existed for 4.5 billion years and has 6.5 billion people. For 750 members, of which 450 are playing members, a period of 128 years has now come to an end. ‘
Is the deficit in the association budget mainly due to the payment of the selection players?
‘Certainly not. All payments related to the Saturday and Sunday selections are raised by sponsors and remain completely outside the exploitation of the association. ‘
Were those sponsors not prepared to sponsor the association?
‘Our experience is that sponsors want to belong to success, to perform at a level where they could show themselves.’
Wouldn’t a merger have been more obvious?
‘We certainly tried that. Especially to arrange it as well as possible for our members and without restrictive conditions regarding our association name and club colors. With SVV from Schiedam, we were very far to accommodate the Sunday selection and a number of other senior teams, but that plan failed in the members’ meeting at SVV.
In Schiedam, among other things, significant debts with Leonidas were discussed. What’s up with that?
‘There are none. No way! All bills will be paid properly. Once again, the core problem is a structural operating deficit of 100,000 euros in the association for the coming years. ‘
Are you blaming yourself?
‘It would be arrogant to think it has nothing to do with ourselves. In a number of ways we have missed the boat ourselves, to put it mildly. In any case, we recognized too late how big this problem would become, even when we saw that other renowned amateur clubs such as CVV, De Musschen, Xerxes, Zwart-Wit ’28 and Neptunus could no longer survive on their own or even disappeared completely. . ‘
Was there too much attention for the first teams at the expense of the entire association?
‘In any case, that was never the intention. But we know that that thought is also alive within the club. I mainly see examples that we were on the phone on Friday evening to complete a lower team. Things like that were less visible, but they were the order of the day. ‘
Is there a concrete example of ‘missing the boat’?
‘Women’s football… We started too early and stopped too early. 10 years ago, women’s football mainly caused us a lot of hassle, also because our accommodation was not designed for it. That’s why we stopped. Now we see elsewhere that it has become an enrichment of club life. ‘
And the payment of volunteers and players?
‘We started quite early on paying for work that was always done voluntarily in the 90 years before that. We really couldn’t get people to do that work at the time. That worked well for a certain period of time, but there is also another side to that coin: once you have started with it, no one else does anything unpaid. Yes, that is a bitter observation afterwards. Paying players is starting to squeeze all of amateur football. What started innocently 50 years ago now gnaws at the foundations of club life. But yes, in the current circumstances, quitting means stopping playing at the highest level. It would only work if you all quit, or at least make reasonable arrangements. But I don’t see that happening… ‘
What will happen to the members now?
We work on this day and night. There is a number of contacts with other associations about the accommodation of our playing members. As soon as there is more clarity about this, we will report back. ‘
The Rotterdam Roman Catholic Sports Association Leonidas was founded on October 30, 1909, as a continuation of the Rotterdam association founded in 1892. In 2012 Leonidas was the first Rotterdam club to win the national KNVB cup. The association consisted of 7 senior teams on Sunday and 5 senior teams on Saturday. The first team on Sunday played in the league up to and including the 2019-2020 season. In addition, there were 20 youth teams youth teams and 4 indoor football teams. Leonidas’ traditional home base is located at Erasmuspad 9 in Rotterdam. RKSV Leonidas, sandwiched between Rotterdam-Schiebroek and Oude Noorden, played an important role in the district, especially for the youth. Leonidas was also an example of integration, where children and adults of many different nationalities played together in good harmony.