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This week in clubs Friday, we talked to Tilburg student soccer club Merlijn! Here you will find the soccer culture. If you can kick a ball around, have a love for the game, and enjoy a beer afterward, you're in the right place. That's what Merlijn is all about and it fits in perfectly with student life. At Merlijn you can join if you are just starting and have never touched a ball, or if you are already skilled with a ball. So there is a level for everyone! It is clear that Merlijn is more than just a soccer club. Activities are organized on a regular basis and that's not just the third half. No, 'cantuses', team weekends, and other monthly activities ensure that there is plenty to do at Merlijn. We had the pleasure to talk with chairman Cherelle and competition manager Luuk. They were kind to answer all our questions, which you can find below!
Could you tell us something about Merlijn
"Initially, Tilburg students played in a separate student soccer team at TSV Longa and on May 12, 1968, they became champions of their division. One day later TSVV Merlijn was officially founded. That grew into the Merlijn we know today. We were dormant for a number of years, then there was a relaunch in 2000. Since then we have grown into one of the largest student sports associations in Tilburg."
"We currently have around 320 members. That's pretty big for a Tilburg student sports club. The vast majority of them are definitely men, who are called Merliners. However, the committees are for the most part filled by the ladies (Merlinas)", Cherelle tells us. "Therefore, the ladies are most often present at the activities and such. So it's funny to see that the majority are men, but that the ladies show up more often. The ladies' branch is very close. The men are especially close per team. They just look for their sociability and that's totally fine too."
How is the culture at Merlijn?
"It's a very open environment. It's really a 'soccer culture,' but among students. The soccer culture is always 'just act normal, then you're already crazy enough. If you can kick a ball around, have a love for the game, and then enjoy a beer, you're in the right place. That's very prevalent at Merlin and fits in nicely with student life."
WHAT TYPIFIES A MERLINER AND MERLINA?
After some careful thinking, this is not difficult for Luuk: "Just kick a ball around and after the game, we all enjoy the third half. Have a beer, play a game, and have a good time."
Cherelle tells us a bit about the ladies, Merlinas: "The ladies department are all super nice ladies. They are all very different types of people. That's because everyone is of course very welcome to join. The one thing that also prevails among the ladies is sociability, which of course goes hand in hand with soccer culture. We also have a team weekend for the Merlinas. Anyone who wants to join can sign up for that. We are in an accommodation somewhere in the Netherlands, where we do some activities."
“ NOT ONLY ON THE FIELD, BUT ESPECIALLY OFF THE FIELD TO MAKE IT AS FUN AND SPORTY AS POSSIBLE ”
WHAT DO YOU GUYS DO OFF THE FIELD?
"We normally have a club night every week at the Olympia Sports Bar, our canteen. The plan this year is to have an activity attached to that once a month if it's all allowed again. Often we have activities that we organize at the Boekanier and we were also able to organize a cantus that sold out in no time. There is an activities commissioner who tries to fill the whole year with the necessary parties. In addition, we organize two major tournaments. An indoor soccer tournament (TOFT) which normally takes place in January and the TSZV, which is a five-week league tournament that takes place in May/June."
Cherelle proudly adds: "We also had a charity auction. Our acquisition committee approaches entrepreneurs and businesses in Tilburg. These things are then auctioned off. Then we donate all the proceeds to a charity. This year we donated the money to the ETZ hospital in order to fight corona. It was a great success. It was a fun evening and we were able to raise a nice amount."
WHAT ARE YOUR TRADITIONS?
"We have a tradition that the moment you waste beer, you have to do an 'adtje shoe'," Luuk tells us. "You then have to put your beer in your shoe and thus chug the beer out of your soccer shoe. It makes people be economical with your beer. After all, that's one of the most important things," Cherelle and Luuk laugh. "Besides that, we have our own song that we sing at certain occasions."
“ IT WOULD BE COOL IF WE COULD JUST MAKE A SUPER BIG AND FANCY 'MERLIJN COMPLEX' DOWNTOWN. A 'MERLIJN STADIUM' WOULD BE COOL! ”
WHAT WOULD BE COOL FOR THE FUTURE?
"I would love it if we really had a growth opportunity", Cherelle says. "We're pretty much dealing with a 'ceiling' right now. That's because we really only have one soccer field at our disposal, which limits the number of games. There are only a few more students coming to Tilburg. Including students who like to play sports and, in our case, soccer. We want to continue to welcome them with open arms. I would like it if we could become a bigger club. If we could introduce even more people to Merlijn and immerse them in its culture."
How do you become a member of Merlijn?
"You can just sign up through the site. It's open to everyone: men, women, people who play at a high and low level. If you have never played soccer before, you can also just sign up", Luuk tells us. "So there is something for everyone."
"If you still have doubts, you can send an email and you can join two trainings to see if it clicks with the team and the level", adds Cherelle.
Take a look at Merlijn's site for more information!