Do you remember it? The international game show Spel
zonder Grenzen? In the Seventies and Eighties, Spel zonder Grenzen
was broadcast live in seven European countries, including the Netherlands.
In 1977, just after the forming of the new municipality Nieuwegein, there
was also a team from our municipality. And Nieuwegein was really excited
at that time. The streets of the Swiss town of Carouge were empty on
Wednesday 29th June 1977 and the audience for the event was huge.
Nieuwegein won that evening's competition and as a result qualified for
the final of Spel zonder Grenzen in Ludwigsburg, West Germany.
Jaap Verwey: "Spel zonder Grenzen was very
popular at that time, not just in the Netherlands, but also in the six
other participating countries there was an enormous audience. It was
broadcast on Saturday and sometimes Sunday evenings by the NCRV and it had
an enormous impact.
The original team gathered on Saturday 31st October 2009
after 32 years. In 1977, the team had 14 members: 9 men and 5 women. It
was a selection of 600 people from Nieuwegein, which entered.
Jaap Ruizeveld: Nieuwegein was always a small town,
which was formed by merging the towns of Jutphaas and Vreeswijk. This was
the ultimate chance to merge the municipality. There always was some
wrangle between Vreeswijk and Jutphaas and suddenly they were together.
Everyone accepted and watched, because Nieuwegein was on TV!
In the Ferry House of Nieuwegein, the team watched the
video from 1977. A strong team which fought for first place.
Jaap Verwey: That team stayed active, with
invitations until 1979, and in great harmony. After that, just an
individual meeting sometimes, but no reunion or the idea to organise
Jaap Ruizeveld: Nieuwegein saw it as an enormous
festival. All papers were represented, it was a gigantic happening at that
time. Everybody participated in it, everybody knew each other and because
of that there was a community to stand behind it. The enthusiasm was
incredible, and it buses full of people from Nieuwegein followed the team
on their travels abroad and celebrated their achievements.
Jaap Verwey: Great to see you! Really, I'm not gonna
lie. Err, we had some questions when Leina and myself started with it, I
really like this event! I was in charge of sports in the
municipality, so for something like this, it was down to me: "that is your
business" they said. And in those years, it took hours, but it was a
pleasure to do, with so many others participating as well.
Lenie Lens and Henk Vonk: The best thing of
everything was that we had to prepare and we did it in gymnasia or halls.
We had a gym available at 8.00am and also at 10.00pm and those hours were
used by us to prepare.
Jaap Verwey: The youngest one was Maarten Omen, who
was at the marina and was a really happy guy. But sometimes we had to keep
him under control - just like the guy behind the window over there!
Jaap Verwey: I will not make it too long, but I'd
like to thank two people: Lida and Herman. Lida and met me and she said we
had to organise someting. Some of you said it as well.
Lenie Lens and Henk Vonk: I enjoyed the team spirit
and the training - because I was responsible for the training - and the
next day, the men always had muscle pain everywhere! They thought they
could do it as they played football! And I enjoyed that of course!
However: working with everyone was the best thing.
And then we have... Schwäbisch Gmünd with 26 points. Here
are the results. 1st - Nieuwegein, The Netherlands 47 points, 2nd - Moena,
Italia, 38 points with Carouge (20 points) and Macclesfield (19 points)
bringing up the rear. Those are the scores from the match. We are waiting
for the delivery of the trophy and here it is taken by the team with a
spontanous wave. What an honour - and there is the entire Dutch team from
Lenie Lens and Henk Vonk: We had to see what games
we were expected to compete in, so that we were well prepared for what we
had to do in them.
Jaap Verwey: A memory I still have, is it was always
a team which was sometimes stressed, especially when there was another
contest, but there always was a great, nice, good, sportive mood! That's
also an advantage from the technical viewpoint of a team like that,
because not only do you select on the sportive mood, but also the
personality they have!
Nieuwegein's win was the first of three Dutch successes in
Spel zonder Grenzen 1977. You can see the spontaneous celebrations
from the Belgians from Zwevegem - also the other teams are celebrating
too. That's the Spel zonder Grenzen mood and it's for sure
Nieuwegein returned happy to their municapality.
Jaap Ruizeveld: For me and my family it was a great
thing to do. I was on holiday when it was held in Carouge. We were in
Italy with the family and flew over by plane from Milan to Carouge, that
was possible at that time! It was too crazy to tell.
Nieuwegein finished in 1st place, the winner with 47 points
and were a strong contender for the final, which was to be held some
Lenie Lens and Henk Vonk: Before that time, we got
those games and we came together and said: "Guys, we're gonna try it!".
And like Henk says, my husband, it was very creative and he said "I'm
gonna try it first and then we're gonna do it!".
Sadly though, Nieuwegein was not able to win the final of
Spel zonder Grenzen in Ludwigsburg, West Germany. However, the
municipality had attracted attention. The proud team from Nieuwegein have
lots of stories to share from that time.