Amsterdam sports

Yoga centers in Amsterdam

Yoga has taken great flight almost everywhere in the world, and Amsterdam is no exception. Yoga studios have been mushrooming the city over the last couple of years. What is exceptional about yoga studios in Amsterdam however, is that most of them either offer classes for English language speakers or are very accommodating towards them.

Not only is Amsterdam the capital of the Netherlands, it also has a rich sportive history. Amsterdam has about 800 sports clubs. The most popular sports in the Netherlands are football, tennis, (ice)skating and hockey.

Ajax Amsterdam

The most famous sporting club of Amsterdam is without a doubt the football club Ajax. What started out in 1883 with a group of friends around Han Dade, owner of a real leather ball, turned into an international top club. They were national champion 27 times, won the EUFA cup once, were 4 times winner of the Champions League, and won the World cup on two occasions.
The name “Ajax” was first used in 1894 when the founding fathers Han Dade, Carel Reeser and Floris Stepel changed the name from “Union” to “Foothball Club Ajax”. They played on a field at the end of the Overtoom, which was at that time, just outside of Amsterdam city borders. Since these early days the now famous red and white colors were used. After the municipally of Amsterdam turned their training grounds in housing blocks in 1896 the club almost disappeared, but he threesome Stempel, Dade and Reeser founded a “completely new football club” in 1900. “Football club Ajax” was born on March 18 in the café Oost-Indie on the Kalverstraat and they rented a playing field in Amsterdam Noord. From then on the prizes started to come in 4-1 against the Dutch national team in 1901, and the golden cross for best amateur football club in 1907. Ajax was on the move because of building plans again. They found a new field in Watergraafsmeer. It was a bit sober, no stands, dressing room or even water, but it has a good tram connection – just try to sell that to a modern soccer star!
Super trainer Jack Renolds took charge of the players for 35 years and they won their first national championship in 1918. His training methods formed the basis of the Ajax Youth training program of today.
In 1930 Ajax moved to the “De Meer” stadium and from there they dominated Dutch football for the next 60 years. In 1961 they were the first Dutch club to play in the European competition, winning it 10 years later. Their best season was 1972 when they were lead by the legendary Johan Cruijff and won the National Championship, the Dutch Cup, the European Champions Cup and the World Cup.

Nowadays the club is housed in the Ultra modern ArenA in Amsterdam Zuid-Oost, which seats 51.300 people and has a retractable roof. Who would have thought that the club of a couple of friends with a leather ball would grow to become a multimillion euro business 100 years later.
Of course Ajax also has opened its famous stadium the Amsterdam ArenA to the public.


There is only one NFL, but Europe has it’s own version: NLFE! National Football League Europe. Together with Frankfurt Galaxy, Berlin Thunder, Rhein Fire, FC Barcelona Dragons and Scottish Claymores the Amsterdam Admirals battle for a place in the world bowl – the final between the two best European teams of the season. This is not just a bunch of big guys with a strange looking ball trying to ram each other of the field; this is a sporting spectacle with complete music, dance acts and artists during half time.
Starting 2 hours before the game, the pre-game entertainment is a mix of cheerleader shows, music and fireworks. You can see the warming up of the players, get your picture taken with the World Bowl or have your face painted in Admirals war colors.
An evening out at the Admirals in the Amsterdam ArenA is an evening full of entertainment and sport. Next years NFL stars can be seen in Europe first!

The admirals took their name from the famous Dutch seafaring captains of the Golden Age, who turned Amsterdam into a rich city of merchants and traded their goods all over the world.


Shortly after the Second World War, nearly all of the leading basketball teams came from Amsterdam. The Apollohal and the playing field on the Museumplein are still considered basketball temples by most. During the eighties and early nineties many of Amsterdams talents dissappered to other clubs in the Netherlands. In 1995 a new club was formed by a group of Amsterdam players. Former Coach of the year Jan Willem Jansen managed the team of very experienced players from older Amsterdam teams like the Lely’s, Piranha’s and Canadiens. Although they were good they still lost their finale to the masters of the game from Den Bosch.
In 1997 they changed their sponsor to Ricoh, and with a big international company behind they needed to get some results soon. Ton Boot, one of the best captains of his time was brought in as a coach. This “rookie” won them the national title and the team made it to the semi finales of the European Cup. He made a professional team out of the players and won them seven championships.
In 2003 internet company Demon gave the Astronauts their new name: Demon Astronauts, but the team still revolves around Joe Sprinks, Mario Bennes, Chris McGuthrie and Koen Rouwhorst.

The Olympics

After having tried in 1916, 1920 and 1924 the Netherlands finally, land the Olympics Games for 1928. The decision is already made in 1921 but due to financial insecurity, the International Olympic Committee needs a financial guarantee from the Dutch government. A new bill is proposed in Parliament in 1925 to allow a state loan of 1 million guilders to the Dutch Olympic Committee. There is much upheaval for this “Pagan party which honors not God, but the people and the Mammon”. Many fear the “desecration of the Day of God” if there are matches on Sunday. In addition, they are seen as a thread to women who might “loose their sense of decency” if overwhelmed by all these sporting events. The bill ends up in the bin.
It is the municipally of Amsterdam, backed by donations from companies that comes up with the 1 million guilders and saves the day.
The games are a great success; the only person missing is Queen Wilhelmina, who refused to come back from her vacation in Norway because she was not consulted on the day for the opening ceremony.
It is the first year with an Olympic fire, it’s the first year where all countries parade for the crowds. It’s the first year woman are allowed to join in athletics and gymnastics. It’s the first year the length of the athletics track is standardized on 400 meters.
And it’s the first year that mainland Europe gets acquainted with Coca-Cola.
The Netherlands win 8 golden, 10 silver and 4 bronze medals, a pretty good result.
The only problem is housing all the athletes, but a solution is found in the harbor. The ships that transported them to Amsterdam are used as permanent housing. The same solution was implemented in 2004 in Athens – many of the officials where housed in cruise ships.

Sporting heroes

Great teams don’t exist without great players, and some individuals are really in a class of their own. Some of the best know sporting men en women hail from Amsterdam and here are a few of them:

Johan Cruijff

Or should I simply say “Number 14”, probably the best know Dutch person in the World, is born on April 25v 1947 in Watergraafsmeer. His legendary soccer style won him the best Dutch soccer player ever and the title of European soccer player of the century. He played for Ajax, FC Barcelona and Feyenoord and Levante. After his life as a player he became coach of Ajax and later Barcelona. He inspired the Johan Cruijff Univercity an educational institute for top sportsmen and women and the Johan Cruijff Welfare foundation; which supports sporting events for underprivileged youngsters.

Gerrie Kneteman

This famous cyclist also hails from Amsterdam. He was born on 1951 in Amsterdam and worked as a paviour before becoming a professional cyclist. He became worldchampion in 1978 and wond 10 etappes of the Tour de France. He also won the Amstel Gold Race twice and finished first in Paris-Nice in 1978. After winning a total of 127 competitions he retired in 1989.

Fanny Blankers-Koen (1918-2004)

This Olympic athelete was also born in Amsterdam and made a legendary impression in the London games of 1948. Here this mother of 2 won no less than 4 gold medals. She was the first woman the pull this stunt on the 100 and 200 meters sprint, 80 meters hurdles and 4x 100 meter relay. When she arrived in London she already held six world records.

Ton Boot

Another Amsterdam local, who spend much of his free time on the basketball field on the Museumplein and grew up to be a great basketball player and coach. He became national champion 11 times and won the coach of the year awards 7 times over.

by Ed Vreeburg