Lancelot

This week we talked to Niels and Stan from the student squash club Lancelot. An association with a special story. New, although the name already exists. Out of passion for the sport and the will to share that passion with others, Niels and Stan revived this dormant association. Meanwhile, the association is flourishing again. In a sustainable way, Niels, Stan and Bram have laid a solid foundation. What's in it for the future? Read the article!

WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DO YOU DO AT LANCELOT?

"I am Niels and I am the chairman at Lancelot this year. I do what chairmen do. In the end I try, together with my fellow board members, to steer the association in the right direction."

"I am Stan and I am secretary at Lancelot this year. I am mainly involved in a bit of 'community building'. So I'm not only busy with the squash, but also with setting up activities and such besides the court."

"There are not just the two of us. We also have a treasurer, Bram. The three of us are the board of Lancelot!

WHAT IS THE BASIS OF LANCELOT?

"Lancelot is the university's student squash association. We were founded in 1988 and have been around for more than 30 years. There have been some periods when the club was dormant. No board could be found. That was also the case during the past two years. Since the summer, we have picked it up again and are growing. At the moment we have 40 members. There is room for everyone who likes squash, so for beginners and advanced players. We have club nights, where we like to play together, but we also have a fanatical competition team. We want to make sure that people can meet each other, so that they can play at a desired level."

Stan added: "Because the club was asleep for two years, we have the opportunity to start with a clean slate. We took over the name, but otherwise we added our own touch to the association. Now everything is in place and it's running well!"

I WANTED TO TAKE THE OPPORTUNITY TO SHARE THE PASSION FOR SQUASH AND OFFER PEOPLE A PLACE TO CALL HOME

HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA TO RESTART LANCELOT?

Niels says: "Last summer I was looking to play squash with people. Then I contacted Lancelot. At that time it was a dormant club and there was no one to contact. Then I asked FOSST how things were. They told me that there was no squash club, but that they wanted one. They asked me to take it up. After thinking about that for a while, I thought it was a really nice idea."

"I wanted to take the opportunity to share the passion for squash and to give people a home a place to play squash. I turned to Stan. We wanted to build an organisation together. So we didn't just want to offer squash, but we looked at the structure of an organisation and community building. We found that very cool!"

Stan: "I had never squashed before when Niels asked me to join the board. I tried it once and I was hooked. We wanted to build a community linked to a fun sport. Then Bram - our third board member - joined as treasurer. Together we form a strong board."

"So the nice thing is that we didn't want to play squash at any cost, but we wanted to build an organisation that is still strong in the long run. It's been a really cool experience for us! We can see from the membership growth that it works and we also hear from the members that many initiatives are cool. That gives a lot of energy."

WHAT DOES AN AVERAGE WEEK LOOK LIKE?

"On Mondays we have the club night. On Wednesdays, the sports centre provides a training session. On Fridays we have a training session with the first team. The last Monday of the month there is a tournament, where people can get a taste of that kind of atmosphere. If you win, you get to have your name immortalised on the golden racket."

"In addition, we have several social events throughout the month. Every last Tuesday of the month we have a 'social'. That's just having a drink, with a theme. Any member can and may join that. Every month we aim to have another bigger activity too, like a beer cantus or a scavenger hunt."

"The contact with other squash associations outside Tilburg is also very good. We like to visit them for open tournaments. Members of the Lancelot team participate in regional competitions and tournaments organised by student squash associations, squash clubs and the national association."

WE ARE COMMITTED TO MAKING EVERYONE FEEL WELCOME AND COMFORTABLE AT LANCELOT

WHAT ARE THE CLUB NIGHTS LIKE?

"Squash and drinking beers! In a certain order of course. First you play squash and then you socialise with each other. Naturally, there are die-hards who play a lot with each other, but you can also just enjoy watching a match from the sidelines and take it easy. On these evenings we like to add some extras. We often do some form of games and exercises, so you will be on the court with more than one person. This can be done in a safe way. You can learn a lot from each other. There is enough knowledge in the house and that makes it very instructive. We try to make squash as accessible as possible for everyone."

"Quite recently, for example, we have a new dimension that we can add. That is called squash 57. You then get a kind of Beach Ball racket, with a real bouncing ball, which gives you more time to play the ball. This makes the game more accessible."

"Because there are 40 of us, it's very personal and that's really nice. You know everyone by name. So the threshold to challenge each other and to join is very low. For us, 40 members is quite a lot, because we started with nothing. It has grown so fast in one year. We have 4 squash courts and if we want to grow even more, we have to be creative."

HOW IS THE MUTUAL CONTACT BETWEEN THE MEMBERS?

Niels tells: "Everyone has come dripping in one by one. We started with me as the first member, Stan as the second member and every week there seemed to be someone coming in. It seems that these new members were looking for a place with like-minded people. They found that with us. It really feels like a whole. We work hard to make sure everyone feels welcome and comfortable at Lancelot".

Stan adds: "Everyone can decide in their own way how they want to be in the group. Some people go 'all-in' and are everywhere, some are only at the squash or the socials. So you can decide for yourself how you want to be in it. In every way there is a place for you. We're getting better and better at achieving our goal, because it comes naturally and everyone welcomes each other."

IT WOULD BE VERY COOL IF LANCELOT IS THE PLACE WHERE STUDENTS GO TO PLAY SQUASH

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE IN THE FUTURE?

"If we grow in membership, we want to be able to maintain the quality. Building more courts is difficult, but it would be nice if we could have more club nights. It would be really cool if Lancelot is the place where students go to play squash."

"There are a lot of people who just book a court and get going, but the club really has something extra to offer those people. We often hear that people are not sure if they are good enough. In the club we have members of all levels, from beginner to advanced and everything in between. As a result, everyone can find nice, good playing partners on the club nights."

"We are also now mainly working on the basics. We want to make sure that we can pass on the baton nicely. So we want to put everything on paper for our successors."

WHAT DOES THE INFORMAL PICTURE LOOK LIKE?

"We are busy thinking of things we can do in the social field. The priority is - as we have just started - on some basic things and the squash. However, the activities committee is already thinking about this."

"The great thing about being so small is that you can listen very well to everyone. To what they want. If a large number of people like something, we'll do it. So it's very much action-reaction and co-creation. So we think it's important to listen to the members, but there are always initiatives coming up that we as a board like to share with the members."

HOW CAN YOU BECOME A MEMBER OF LANCELOT?

"You have to be a real member at the sports centre. If you are, we have a club night every Monday. Anyone can, for once, come and see what it is like on the club night. We also have an 'open month' twice a year, where you can come for a whole month. This is the first month of the new semester."

"You don't necessarily have to join at a certain time. So you can become a member at any time. You pay €25 for a whole year and €15 for half a year. Even with those prices, we wanted to keep it as accessible as possible."

"If you want to know more, you can take a look at our Instagram or the website. Or, if you see someone wearing an orange shirt with 'Lancelot' on it, you can of course talk to us too!"