Sometimes you have those days that turn out completely differently than you thought beforehand. That was the case on Saturday September 17 when I visited Ping Pong Alkmaar. Even on the Olympic floor. But what happened in the space of an hour, no one could have imagined in advance.

    Stephan Brandhorst and Ping Pong Alkmaar – NH Sport / Stephan Brandhorst

    Strike two o’clock, location Gymnasium Tochtwaard. I park in the last spot behind the football field. Would it be very busy at the return of an Alkmaar table tennis club at the highest level? I haven’t even been inside for a moment and the geniality radiates from everything.

    “I actually don’t know if I was allowed to send that last Excel”

    Jeff Huisman from Ping Pong Alkmaar

    It actually started earlier that week when I received all important documents from the club from Jeff Huisman, the jack of all trades. “I actually don’t know if I was allowed to send that last Excel”, follows after sending the budget. It provides an insight into how transparent Ping Pong Alkmaar works. You will never see that at football clubs. Jeff even wants to drop by the editorial office to give a course on table tennis. A heart of gold.

    Text continues below the Facebook post.

    The whole week in advance I get updates about the work, painted walls and new table tennis tables. That day, Jeff proudly presents the gymnasium that they have transformed into a sports hall with all their might.

    On the big day everyone started early in the morning to make the hall spick and span. And to put the magic floor in it. Mark Smith, the captain of Ping Pong Alkmaar, has managed to tap the table tennis floor of the 2012 Olympic Games in London. And that floor of all places is located at Ping Pong Alkmaar in the Tochtwaard gymnasium. It’s almost too good to be true.

    Keep filming

    Although one of the tables is rejected in the warm-up, the hall slowly fills up. Specially flown in players from England, a rigged live stream and even a DJ must make the return to the premier league a success.

    In the meantime I get sandwiches and an AA’s pressed into my hands several times. The first set has started and I decide to crank up the camera right away. After a number of points, the match is stopped. Jeff is already feeling the storm. The floor starts to slide and everyone’s alarm bells go off except Jeff. “You don’t see football players doing this,” he says as they repair the surface. Very dry and slightly cynical.

    “It turns out that it is my boss’s birthday that day and I unknowingly treat him to a possible gap in the broadcast”

    Reporter Stephan Brandhorst

    I happily continued filming, assuming that this will add an extra dimension to the story. Until the match is definitively abandoned after one game. The floor is too slippery and too dangerous, concludes the referee, who is refereeing a match at the highest level for the first time. Did I again…

    I immediately call my boss to discuss and that he could assume that we do not have an item. After all, I have very little image. Afterwards it turns out that it is my boss’s birthday that day and I unknowingly treat him to a possible gap in the broadcast.

    Text continues below the Facebook post.

    Just keep going and see what it yields, that’s how we decide. And that works out great. The referee in discussion with players. A complete floor that is removed from the hall with man and power. People on their knees trying to remove the glue residue. Very sad for the club, but I am secretly enjoying being a reporter.

    I love it when things don’t go quite according to plan. “At least you have a unique story,” Jeff says several times before I drive off. He is right. The idea that I had in my head before I drove to Alkmaar has ended up in the trash. This story is much better.

    Unique story

    All that hard work appears to have been for nothing for all the volunteers. I’m back in the car with a grin on my way to the editorial office. I can already envision some sort of Lucky TV entry for me, but that wouldn’t have been entirely appropriate. I want to respect the club. I decide to make a fun video of it, but one that reflects the feeling of the afternoon.

    “I am immediately famous in North Holland”

    Jeff Huisman from Ping Pong Alkmaar

    That same evening the item is online and I almost immediately receive an app from Jeff. “That item turned out very nice. I already received a bunch of apps from fellow Ping Pongers. Have a nice evening and thanks and maybe see you soon.” Jeff is thankfully proud of the video. “I am immediately famous in North Holland. We try to see this positively, as a kind of learning moment. But we made soup, almost ten liters for that Saturday. So everyone almost got a bucket,” he later responds under the Facebook post.

    In the following weeks I will be kept informed of every match. On the way back from Limburg he calls about the latest results, I get updates on the floor and the first victory is also announced with an extensive app. Very proud.

    Unfortunately, the curtain falls in December. Relegation can no longer be averted by Ping Pong Alkmaar. It didn’t work out for them either.

    Stephen Brandhorst

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