Merlijn soccer club appoints confidential contact person

Merlijn soccer club appoints confidential contact person

Student sports are still largely in lockdown, but student soccer club Merlijn is already a little more ready to storm the fields. The association has appointed former board member Lieke Prinsen as an independent confidential contact person. “People can feel very bad about what is sometimes still called locker room humor,” she says.

Beeld Dolph Cantrijn

Things that, in some talk shows, fall in the category of locker room humor, joking should be possible, can in the real world also be experienced as bullying or sexual harassment. Several major scandals and abuses have come to light in recent years. But even on a smaller scale, the atmosphere is not always as free, happy, and safe as we would all like. That is why the NOC*NSF advocates the appointment of independent confidential contact persons.

“As a student sports association, you don’t think about that so easily, because you’re so small. But after the KNVB announced that it is expected of you, the board immediately went to work on it,” says Lieke Prinsen. Merlijn is not the first club in the Sports Center with a confidential contact person. The field hockey players of Shot preceded them.

Prinsen has been a Tilburg University graduate for several years and now works as a lawyer. Yet she did not have to think long when she was asked for this position. “The current board was very involved immediately. And for me it is a nice way to remain active at the club. I am also still a member of the club.”


A confidential contact person is not quite the same as a confidential advisor, she emphasizes. “My job is to be there for anyone who needs it. It could be about bullying behavior or that they are dealing with sexually transgressive behavior.

“I refer those people and I make a report of it for the board. A confidential advisor can then mediate, accompany them to conversations, and assist them during the follow-up process, a confidential contact person cannot do these things.”

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Lieke Prinsen, the independent confidential contact person of student soccer association Merlijn

Potentially, it could be a tough position, but Prinsen is not completely alone. Besides the support she feels from the board, she works together with her colleague from Shot. In fact, Shot’s confidential contact person is also available to Merlijn’s soccer players and, vice versa, Prinsen is available to the field hockey players.

“It’s common for two people to be available, and because the two associations are relatively small, that’s how we resolved it. And sometimes people may find it more comfortable if they can speak to a person whom is not from the same association.”

Lieke Prinsen and her Shot colleague Renske van der Linden also received special training from the NOC*NSF before their appointments. “Due to the coronavirus measures, the course was online, which is a pity. It would have been more pleasant if we could have met physically for this. But we were able to practice conversation techniques, which is still a good experience. It’s also nice to know which agencies you can turn to.”

Locker room humor

Although she was a Merlijn board member years ago, Prinsen believes she now has enough distance to operate independently. With her arrival, new rules of conduct have also been drawn up to create more awareness. This is necessary, she thinks: “Things that are sometimes called locker-room humor can make people feel miserable.

“Those are things you can talk about with a confidential contact person. The threshold to talk about that has to be low. Fortunately, these days, people are coming forward with it more often.”

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