‘I can be satisfied with a loss and dissatisfied with a win.’ Bas van de Goor – Olympic athletes interviewed Episode 64

Bas van de Goor Olympic Champion 1996, most Valuable Player at 2 Olympics Games, Volleyball Hall of Famer, and named the Michael Jordan of Volleyball outlines how they lost all major finals for 4 years, before clinching the Olympic title.

Bas shares how he always put his career first, why he believes that things will fall in place in the competition when you put the necessary work in, and his very vivid recollection of the Olympic Volleyball final in Atlanta 1996.

He shares how he got diagnosed with cancer, how he stood strong during this time, why he started his foundation to help people with diabetes, and the athletes that have impacted him most.

Furthermore, we discuss

Part 2 of the interview with Bas van de Goor

Christian: Today I’m joined by Bas van de Goor. Bas is a double Olympian and Olympic Champion in 1996. A scary list of achievements, double MVP (Most Valuable Player) at the Olympics Games, in 1996 and 2000; three times Champions League winner, European Champion, World League winner, Euro League Winner, Volleyball Hall-of-Famer, and your coach also named you the ‘Michael Jordan of Volleyball’.

Bas: Well, the last was maybe the most gratifying.

Christian: Is it?

Bas: Well, Michael Jordan, I think he was one of the most inspiring athletes I could name.

Christian: I can imagine that.

His darkest moment

Christian: With such an illustrious career, it’s hard to imagine you had dark moments. But what was your darkest moment in your life as an athlete?

Bas: I had quite a lot of injuries and also some other physical setbacks, which didn’t have anything to do with my Volleyball, such as having diabetes or a cerebral attack. I have had a few setbacks.

I had quite a lot of injuries and also some other physical setbacks, which didn’t have anything to do with my Volleyball, such as having diabetes or a cerebral attack.

If you’re looking at the sportive way, my first year in Italy, I had some difficult periods. But at the end, I ended up well with a lot of victories we had as a team. However, as a person, as an athlete, it was quite difficult.

My first year abroad playing in a different league in a different country with other expectations, that was quite difficult the first year. But once we reached May and we won the championship, all was over and all was good. Then I continued playing for seven more years in Italy. So that was great.

Christian: What year was that?

Bas: It was in 1994 / 1995, my first year abroad, I played five years in the Dutch highest league and then I made the step to Italy. This was the place to be if you wanted to play at the highest level.

There were some Dutch players already playing there. I was like the second generation. So Peter Blangé, Ron Zwerver, Jan Posthuma, Henk-Jan Held, Olof van der Meulen, all those players already played in Italy. So I followed them and they taught me a lot about how to deal with playing in Italy.

Christian: Then how did you overcome these dark moments?

Bas: In every year there are moments that you don’t play well and that you have a dip and things are not going the way you like them to go. I always set small sub-goals for myself, so there is no big goal like we have to win the Championship. That’s too abstract. It’s very difficult to work on that every day.

You have to just cut it in pieces and then just try to achieve one piece of your ambition; your goal. If you just forget all the things that can happen and just work on your little goal that makes your world quite easy. Of course, you need some trust and some energy also from your teammates and from the club and they gave it. So that was how I survived.

I always set small sub-goals for myself, and then just forget all the things that can happen and just work on that little goal.

Christian: Okay and then, just to get an idea, for example, if you look at a season, in how many sub-goals do you divide it?

Bas: We have three or four goals in one season. We have the Championship, the European Cup, the Italian Cup, and the Super Cup, which is at the beginning of the season. The Super Cup was too quick for me because that was just one game and everything is over quite soon. But the other three are in February, March, and May.

So this is in the second half of the season, but of course, you are playing a championship. If you’re too low in the table to make the playoffs or got beaten by your opponent or not following the expectation of the public, journalists start writing stuff. I wasn’t used to this in the Netherlands and I took it personally.

That made it quite difficult and then and the only thing I had to do is try to prove them wrong by playing better. Playing better means focus on what you have to do. It sounds very easy, but it’s quite difficult because I cannot tell you not to think about something.

It happens and so with the help of my colleagues who are used to the situation, they’ve done this for like five, eight or ten years. They helped me together at the club and that made me come out stronger than before.

Christian: Interesting. Another dark moment I can imagine the 2000 Olympic Games. You guys were the reigning Olympic Champions and you lost a close match to Yugoslavia, who later became the Olympic Champion. It seems like that was a little bit the end of a golden era of Volleyball for the Netherlands.

Bas: Yes, but first of all, the selection to make it qualification to make it to the Olympics was very close. We didn’t make it to the first qualification and we lost the second.  We had the advantage to have the third, which wasn’t the case for the first time.

So we had the second qualification; we thought we were out and then by getting a guest invite for the third qualification, we managed to win that. We had to go to France, play three teams and one of them was France. We played France three times in the World League months before.

We didn’t win a single set and then we won 3-1 in France, to beat France and to go to the Olympics as the last team. As a defending champion, you’ve not qualified automatically. You have to qualify for yourself.

We were the defending Olympic champion and were the last team to qualify for the Olympic Games.

So as number 12, we qualified and then we did quite well in the group phase. We went to the quarterfinals and we played Yugoslavia and we lost. We played, I think, our best match of the tournament and we lost 17-15 in the fifth set. The same numbers by which we won from Italy in the final four years before.

Yugoslavia then went on to win 3-0 in the semifinals and 3-0 in the final. So that made it a little bit more difficult to live with, because what would happen if we would have won against them. But ‘what if’ are very difficult words in sports.

Actually it made us even more proud of what we did in 1996. But of course, it was difficult and I think we ended quite well by winning the last two matches to become fifth. Fifth in Olympics, which was, I think, great achievement, but still, of course, in your dreams, you have other intentions.

Christian: I remember a few years ago, I used to work with the Beach Volleyball program and I worked with Reinder [Nummerdor] and Richard [Schuil], and I remember we spoke about that quarterfinal match and one of them mentioned: “That would have been another gold medal.”

Bas: I remember Reinder was playing a really outstanding match. This was the best match I ever saw him play. He really kept the team going and was playing really well. So it’s really a pity that we lost that game.

His best moment

Christian: What was your best moment?

Bas: My best moment was August 4th 1996, around 6 o’clock in the afternoon after a thrilling Olympic final. Our team lost all major finals for 4 years,  the final in 1992 at the Barcelona Olympics against Brazil and in 1993, we lost the final against Italy in the European Championship. In 1994, we lost the final against Italy in the World Championships. In 1995, we lost the final to Italy in the European Championships.

Our team lost all major finals for 4 years.

Now we played again the final at the Olympics and you cannot imagine what would happen if we would have lost the final and won the silver medal again. That would be really heartbreaking. I would still be feeling very bad today if that would have happened.

So you can imagine only what the joy we have after winning the final. The really good thing was also coming home and see what we did a few days earlier and how this was lived in the Netherlands. We had a lot of attention and that was really great.

So that was the peak of my career, and another highlight also is the eight years I spent in Italy playing at the highest level with all the best players of the world in one place and playing well in the best teams of Italy. That was really great.

Christian: How has it shaped your life?

Bas: For sure if you’re able to play with the best players in the world and win some important matches, that really boosts your confidence. So being at the top of the Olympics is really great. You can just ‘been there, done that’ and that’s a really great feeling. That gives you confidence for the rest of the time. People are looking different from you.

Doors open and for the future, I will always remain the Olympic Champion and that helps me with the things we do today. For example, with the foundation, doors are going open and that’s really great. For myself, there is like peace of mind. I did a really great thing in my life already and everything, which is extra.

I will always remain the Olympic Champion and there is peace of mind.

Christian: That’s nice. So, how do your kids see that?

Bas: I have four kids and my oldest is 15 and he was born one year before I stopped playing Volleyball, so neither of them ever saw me play Volleyball. The only reason they will like it is if there is like a sports event and they need good tickets. Then they ask that “Do you know these guys? Can you get some tickets?”

Christian: Again, doors open.

Bas: Yes, doors are going to be opened. In the beginning, they were looking strange when people recognized me on the streets and stopped to talk to me. They would ask if I know the guy, but I would tell them I don’t but people recognize me from Volleyball. And so, now they know, but they never saw me play.

Sometimes when there is something going on in their school, like an Olympic day or volleyball or diabetes, they ask me to do a presentation or stuff. They don’t play volleyball, but they do play sports, like soccer and field hockey. They’re not into volleyball. They know what I did. I think there is not a lot of talent wasted.

Christian: Okay. I hope they don’t watch it.

Bas: I tell them also directly.

Christian: Well, they would also be stepping into big footsteps.

Bas: Of course, we have my brother also played volleyball. He was also part of the Olympic team and that made it a special one because I don’t think there are a lot of brothers winning gold medals in team sports at the same time. So my parents were really proud.

Christian: I believe that.

His advice to a younger Bas van de Goor

Christian: If you could go back in time, 10, 15 or 20 years, what advice would you give the younger Bas?

Bas: Sometimes I thought about this myself and it’s quite difficult on a sportive level to give myself different directions. The choices I made were always based on Volleyball and not on sponsorships, commercial or other things, which made it for me quite clean. So I didn’t choose for money or for a contract.

The choices I made were always based on Volleyball, I didn’t choose for money, sponsorships or for a contract.

I chose for teams and trainers and players to see what can I do to improve my own game and then if that goes well, the money will follow. But for me, it’s really important to see your career as a possibility to build on your athlete’s CV. Don’t look back and start all the time over again.

So this means if I came back to my Italian team after winning the Olympic Games which they didn’t win. But my teammates they had like five Champions Leagues, eight Scudettos, which are Championships, and I had one or two.

What they taught me was every Championship you start with zero. If you think you’re good because you won three championships, you will win three championships in your career. You will not win the fourth one.

So every summer, control-alt-delete, you start at zero and you start building the team for that year. This is really important. So I think that was one really important lesson I learned in Italy. Prepare well and start at zero every year.

One really important lesson I learned in Italy was to prepare well and start at zero every year.

Christian: That’s interesting, I think that’s really interesting.

Also check out Bas van de Goor’s induction into the Volleyball Hall of Fame

His success habits

Christian: What are the habits that make you a successful athlete and person?

Bas: I’m not sure if it’s habits or a character trait. Actually, this morning I spoke with the coach and how I deal with things and I think of myself as a chaotic person. But he figured out that I was quite precise at a few things and if I give something real attention, I’m really precise.

I recognize this in how I play and I think it’s very important to have a very clear plan with the dedication of the whole team to make this plan work. If not, everything is like sand, goes through your fingers and doesn’t stick and that I think is really important.

It’s very important to have a very clear plan with the dedication of the whole team to make this plan work.

So my habit is also to prepare well and only have one position of the pedal which is down. There is no 80%, there’s no 90%. I’d like to train 100% all the time. You have to rely on your teammates, but also the trainer to put the car in the right direction and you have to gas, gas, gas, gas.

You have to work hard and if this is the only way you train, things will work out in the matches. So there is no 50% training because there is a game and then we gear up to sixth gear and then we go. It’s six gear with the pedal to the metal or nothing. That was how I wanted to train and I think that was the only mindset to enter the field.

You have to work hard and things will work out in the matches.

Christian: Then in moments when you get sidetracked, I assume there are moments when you get sidetracked, how do you make sure you focus on the goal?

Bas: I was playing in the middle; the middle blocker. As the middle blocker, you’re in the center of the match, where if you are blocking, the ball arrives ½ meter from you on the other side and it’s really easy to lose the overview.

So I really needed somebody to keep me stuck to the plan because if you don’t have your plan, then everything starts falling apart. So if I was in a zone, nobody had to tell me anything. If I was really off guard, then it was very difficult to coach me to make a secure plan.

But if I was there, you could really coach the trainer’s and especially the second trainer with the data and could really focus on playing well. If I was struggling with the focus, do not ever try to tell me to work harder because that’s the biggest insult you can give me.

Coaches, who were like “Bas, come on you have to go–“, that was absolutely a turn-off for me because that implies that you think I’m not doing my best, which is like a great insult. I needed data to be more efficient and to be more effective.

His morning routine

Christian: As an athlete, did you have a morning routine? How did you get ready for the day?

Bas: I’m not a morning person and I hated jumping in the morning. My body was just not ready, at least that’s what I thought and it was difficult. Now in the morning, I want to wakeup easy, have some coffee and start slowly.

I’m not a morning person. Before every match, let’s say after five o’clock, we also had morning training so we just prepared. It was like one hour. It was a little bit of stretching, running, a few serve and reception and for somebody who wants some spikes.

If I had to choose in the morning, I would skip it, but I was ready that we did it. I was happy that we did it as we finished, but that was the only time I saw my career as work; the morning training.

That was the only time I saw my career as work; the morning training.

So there is no morning routine, except coffee.

Christian: Okay, coffee. Quite a few athletes actually say that.

How to prepare for important moments

Christian: How do you prepare for important moments?

Bas: I was really silent, so the moment we stepped into the bus there was not a lot of talking. I had my briefing with me and I just looked at the pages. I never entered the gym before the presentation, so of course, if you had to go through the gym to go to the dressing rooms, then that was okay.

I never entered the gym before the presentation

But if you could go through the dressing room, I was in the dressing room and waited there. Even if we had to wait like half an hour and there was a game in there before us, I did not go there. I was just quite easy, checking my briefing and being by myself.

Serving out for the match in Olympic final in 1996

Christian: In that Olympic final in 1996, you guys were a match point down. You ran around and converted a smash and then you served out for the match two times. What did you do in order to stay calm and convert the points?

Bas: It started like two points before, they had a match point. It’s not that I made two faults, but I could have been closing two times and I didn’t. So there was one spike, one attack that they kept and made a point. If I did what I had to do, it would have been the end.

I could have been closing two times and I didn’t. If I did what I had to do, it would have been the end.

So let’s see, at 13-13, I got the ball and I didn’t spike it, and at 14-14 they made a point, a block out with me, and then it was match point against us.

The spike before was kept, so the big question was what would the setter do, Peter Blangé? Peter Blangé was the guy I think with the most stress on his back because if we get a ball, we only have to hit it. Peter had to make the decision about what to do.

He was making the play and he had Olof van der Meulen, Ron Zwerver and me. I did spike the ball before and but he trusted me and gave me the ball also the second time. It was like two, three-meter quick set, which I spiked all the time to the right, like straight and this one I let it go and I spiked it straight.

The funny thing is that four out of six players didn’t know it was a match point. So we were so focused and nobody knew. So then I went to serve, I served and the first was a long rally and the second one, I served to Samuele Papi.

I played with him afterward. He’s the best receiver I have played with. During training, I cannot even remember one time I made it difficult for him. I’m not a great server and he is the best receiver and especially at this moment, I just served not to make a mistake, so it was not too difficult.

It should have been easy, but once the ball’s in the air with no intention to make it too difficult for him, his ball started floating and fell off the air and he had difficulties. So then we got the ball, and in the end it was like a rally and [Andrea] Giani, he hit the antenna.

  • Check out the last points of the Olympic final in 1996

That was the most exciting, ecstatic seconds in my life, I think, when I saw this antenna moving. Now we know we did it and because we were playing for the first place for four years and now it went down. So that was special.

Christian: I believe that.

How to overcome setbacks

Christian: How do you overcome setbacks?

Bas: I think my character is that if I can do something about a specific situation I will do it. If not, I can just take it and put it aside and continue with the way I want to live. With all the physical setbacks, this is heavy for one day.

My character is that if I can do something about a specific situation I will do it. If not, I can just take it and put it aside and continue with the way I want to live.

If you have a cerebral attack or you have diabetes or cancer, this will set you back a few hours, a few days and for cancer, like one month. But then you have to go on. You cannot change. The only thing you can do is figure out which decision you have influence in and then influence them well.

Then it’s up to the doctors or up to the trainer or up to them. Leave it over there because that’s what I also learned during playing volleyball sports. Try to do 100%, not 95, but also not 105% because you get into the place of everybody else and then they have to do one hundred percent.

If they do 95%, then you want to do 105%, then why not 106 and 94 or 107 and 93. One hundred percent is clear and try to do your best. This is how I deal with setbacks. So I try to focus on what you can do to make it work again and then go for it.

It really helps that I can sometimes look at it in a quite clinical way. So “Okay, this is it.” We take it and put it over there and we continue our work or my life. That’s how I deal with setbacks.

How he was diagnosed with cancer and went through eight chemotherapies

Christian:  In late 2016, you were diagnosed with cancer and you went through eight chemotherapies for five months. How did you stay strong during that time?

Bas: Well, of course, the most difficult part was the first month. The first hours of the news that was not good and at that point when you hear the word cancer, the first association is death. So that’s what’s going through my mind. What are the chances that I’m going to die?

When you hear the word cancer, the first association is death.

Well, it took a few days that I got the impression from doctors and some long-distance doctors. The doctors who treated me they didn’t want to tell me the odds. But the doctors who we work with, they contacted me because of the situation.

They told me that there was a good chance that there would be a positive end because this type of cancer is treatable quite well, especially younger people who were fit. So I was in this category. That gave me some confidence and when the cure started, I felt my lymph nodes and then after a couple of days into the first treatment, I felt they were getting smaller.

So that had to mean something that the therapy was working and after two therapies, the second week, it was almost gone. That was quite positive and after three weeks we had the first check scan and the radiologist was really positive and he said, “Well, this is a great picture.”

So he didn’t say you can be confident, but that’s what I was. So then from that point on, I needed to go to five more treatments but I was positive. Not just positive to be positive for the rest, but I was optimistic that everything was going to end well and especially in this situation I thought about what I could do to make it work.

That was trying to find the best doctors and not one, but a few because the biopsy they took is not going into a machine with like on the screen, ‘yes’ or ‘no’ or ‘this is this type’. It’s seen by eyes, so there is a bias of the doctors. I wanted to be sure that there were a couple of top doctors looking at it and they had the same conclusion

The three doctors who saw it had the same conclusion and also had the same treatment advice. So that made it easy for me. I did my best and now it’s up to them and fingers crossed. So then I was happy that I didn’t feel them after two or three treatments, so that was good.

Christian: Sorry to ask a bit more. How was the family situation? Did you tell your kids?

Bas: Yes. The first news when they told me it’s not good and they knew it was cancer and it was lymphoma, but they didn’t know which kind. So you have 30-something different types and they wanted to be exactly sure because that determined the treatment.

So when they told me it was not good, I said that I have to tell the kids immediately because they needed to know. The doctor said that he didn’t think that I should. He said that I should wait until I know what it is and what the plan will be. He said that if I tell my kids there is a problem, then the kids will ask questions, and if you don’t have an answer and that’s not good for them.

If you tell them that Daddy is sick and what the situation is and that they’re going to treat and make him better because we have a plan, that comforts them more. So we had to keep it quiet from them for a week.

It was quite a difficult week because, of course, you get up in the morning and you look at each other because my girlfriend, of course, knew the situation and they didn’t know yet what was hanging over their heads. But then we had to tell them and at the time, they were 12, 11, 7 and 4.

Then they were doing the tests in school. One had to do the tests to go to the next school. So if we told them we thought that it would be a lot of stress and it would influence her tests. But they reacted, of course, a little bit with fear, but they have some questions.

The youngest one, they were too young to know the impact and the association with the word of cancer. After five minutes, they were okay and asked if they could play with the iPad. That’s how it works. The oldest one just one month before told us that he wanted to be a doctor. So the youngest one said, “Well, you have to hurry up because Dad is sick right now.”

The second one, my daughter, was getting quiet and at night she started crying. So that was quite difficult. But luckily after one month, we could bring her the news that we started the therapy and things were looking quite good. But for a few weeks, it was a difficult situation of course.

Being positive doesn’t help cure cancer, but it really helps to get a positive vibe going in a house. So what happened during this time, I didn’t lay on my bed for five months. There were, I think in total, maybe two or three weeks, where I was in bed and the rest I was just without any energy sitting, but I was okay.

Being positive doesn’t help cure cancer, but it really helps to get a positive vibe going in the house.

We could talk. I was at home; instead of being here, I was at home, so the kids liked it. We could read, we could do some games. So that was the positive thing and for me. That was also a new – calling it the possibilities is a little bit strange, but the fact that I was with my kids and see them coming home and be with them more than I’m during the workweek, that was quite good.

His role model

Christian: Who’s your role model and why?

Bas: Well, I admire a few athletes from a distance. But my personal volleyball hero, I worked with him and the guy I learned most from technically, is Jan Posthuma. He’s also two meters nine, the same position, and he was the best blocker in the world.

I played him every day, so every match was easy for me because the blockers were always worse than in training when I played the best blocker. How he was moving, how he held his hands, his determination in the decisions he took. That was really good to work with.

On an international global level, Steve Redgrave. He was like a role model, diabetes wise. He showed me that you can, even in one of the most difficult and hardest sports there is, rowing, and still be the Olympic Champion if you have diabetes.

I really liked, at the beginning of my career when I was in my teenage years, Michael Jordan. I watched him a lot in the beginning because he was spectacular. But then during my career, I admire him even more, about the way he took his team to the next level and won the Championships. So he was a two-step role model.

Right now, I really admire Roger Federer and about how he stays on top and performs after 20 years. Well, I think in his case, he’s 37 right now. So 25 years around the world flying and living in hotels and still keeping the joy for the game; with the pressure of the whole world.

If he loses, its world news and every opponent you see wants to win one match and it’s against Roger Federer. He has to play all the matches, all year long, always with this pressure. How he deals with this being easy going and a gentleman on the court, that’s really fantastic, I think.

Christian: The role model you mentioned, Jan Posthuma, was he also on the 1996 team?

Bas: Yes, he’s on the 1996 team. That was his last tournament for the national team and I think he is eight years older than I am. So he was also on the 1992 team and the 1988 team and I think even in the 1986 team. Now, this was the end of his career. He was the most experienced player at the time.

The best advice he received

Christian: What’s the best advice you received and who gave it to you?

Bas: I am not sure who told me, but “sometimes you lose, sometimes you learn” is something I really liked because I’m a guy who can be satisfied with a loss and dissatisfied with a win. So trying to see in a bigger picture if we lose a championship match, that’s okay.

If this loss teaches me something I can use to be a better player at the next match, then it’s okay. Sometimes you lose and sometimes you learn – sometimes you win, sometimes you learn is, I think a great one because there is always something to learn.

I’m a guy who can be satisfied with a loss and dissatisfied with a win.

Christian: I think it’s John Wooden, the basketball coach, famous college basketball coach, he said something like, “You either succeed or you learn.”

Bas: Yes. Well, I think that’s a great one, yes.

A typical training day in the life of a Volleyball player

Christian: So back in the days, how did the typical training day look like?

Bas: A typical training day depended a lot on the coach we had in Italy or in the Netherlands. The national team in the Netherlands, we had weightlifting training or fitness training and then we went to the gym to do ball training. Normally we started around 11:00 and finished at 3:00, something like this.

In Italy, it was divided into two sessions. So in the morning, we had physical training and we have some ball training. Depending on how close to a matchday we were, the shorter the training was. Ball training was normally between one hour and a half, two hours, sometimes maybe 2 hours and a half, depends a little bit on the training.

At the beginning of the week, it could be three hours and with them, I remember even longer training in the national team, where we had a couple of weeks, no matches; just preparation. So we had three or four weeks of preparation before starting the friendly matches before going to the tournament.

In the beginning, we could also do three and a half, sometimes four hours of ball training. But I think that’s too long. It doesn’t match the duration of the match. But that was typically how the day was. So in the morning in Italy, we had 10 to 12 and 5:00 till 7:00/7:30 and then once it was from 11:00; 10:00 or 11:00 till two/three, something like that.

Why he never considered going into coaching

Christian: Did you never consider going into coaching?

Bas: No. I had to explain to myself why I would like to do it. Somebody asked me the question of how long I wanted to be an ex-volleyball player and that made me decide that I would not do it. The way I played Volleyball was at a100% and I was always on, I saw a lot of trainers and I worked with a lot of trainers who were really dedicated so that my view of being a good coach was Volleyball 24/7 and I didn’t want to do that.

You’re never off, you’re always on. As a player, you have the possibility to go off. You go to the training, you do your three, four or five hours of training you need to do. Besides that, you take care of yourself, you sleep, you eat well and that’s it. But if you want to relax and switch off that’s possible.

My view of being a good coach was Volleyball 24/7, you’re never off, you’re always on.

My idea was as a trainer it’s quite difficult to do. Plus, if you want to be a trainer and you look like three or five or ten years ahead, if you enter this path, you have to see the consequences what this could mean in three or five or ten years.

So if you have the ambition to be a trainer, what if you are champion in the Netherlands for a couple of years, you’ve been national team trainer for a couple of years and you want to go abroad. Are you going and are you going to bring your family? As a player, I was alone with my girlfriend and then we’re both for adventure, so everything was okay.

With kids and your organization, as I see right now, Roberto Piazza is here and his girlfriend is in Italy. So that’s quite a big sacrifice and you have to question yourself if you’re ready to do this. That’s when things go well. When things don’t go well, you’re walking into a dead street? How do you say this?

Christian: Dead end street.

Bas: Dead end street and at the end, if somebody sacks you, that’s it. You go to another place, sacks again and then that’s it. So I didn’t want to be in a situation and I’m quite fast after I quit playing. The foundation came into my head and I really thought that would be giving me the energy I got from playing volleyball and now I can have from the foundation.

His motivation to start his Bas van de Goor foundation

Christian: That leads perfectly into the next question. You’re the Director of your own foundation. The aim is to improve the quality of life of people with diabetes through sports and exercise. What was the motivation to start it?

Bas: Well, having diabetes type 1 myself, I got a lot of questions about how I managed to continue playing. A lot of people say it’s a struggle to play sport when they have diabetes type 1. When you have diabetes, what happens is that the thermostat of your blood sugar which keeps your blood sugar like this, it’s not working; it’s not functioning anymore.

Having diabetes type 1 myself, I got a lot of questions about how I managed to continue playing.

So manually, you have to keep the blood sugar okay. If you play sport, things are going down. If you take sugar, it goes up. If there is stress, it goes up. If you put insulin, it goes down. So there are a lot of factors that influence your blood sugar.

And they ask me. So then I thought that we should try and run a marathon and talk about how I do this. I wanted to talk about how I could manage my glucose levels in a good way. This got a lot of attention.

My colleague and I decided that we would create a structural platform to send this message about the goal you saw before and then the foundation idea was started. So we started in 2006 and we started with organizing camps and sporting clinics and days for kids.

There were about 6,000 kids in the Netherlands with type-1, 100,000 people with diabetes type 1 and 1 million with diabetes. So 900,000 people with diabetes type 2, which is more overweight, elderly disease.

So that’s why we created it and at the same time, I was finished with Volleyball. I quit playing and I wanted to do something new; maybe trying to start a company or at least do something where I could find the energy and this was the case. So these two things merged and then the foundation was created.

Rivalry with his brother

Christian: The bonus question, you mentioned your brother competed in three Olympic Games, in the same sport. As kids or grown-ups was it more a rivalry or did you support each other?

Bas: No, it was quite a rivalry. So we were okay, of course, but as kids, besides from Volleyball, it was a rivalry. We were fighting but I think that’s normal. I started playing volleyball when I was nine and I’m one and a half years older than my brother.

My brother started playing when he was sixteen and at that time, I was already away from home playing professionally in Apeldoorn. So I saw him for the first time in three years. In three years, he came from zero until he was playing with me on the same team.

In three years, he came from zero until he was playing with me on the same team.

So he made a really big jump. He was 2 meters and 6, so he was a big guy. He’s strong and, of course, I think his last name benefited also, but in the end, he was playing. He was playing and he made a contract in Italy and he made the national team, so you don’t do that by the last name.

You do that because you can play Volleyball and in the end, he played more Olympic games than I did. He played more national team matches than I did. He played more games abroad than I did. Also because we played in the same position, it was when Jan Posthuma stopped, it was him for me, playing us on a spot.

Sometimes that happened, but sometimes it’s also possible that he entered for the other guy, so we were both in the field. It felt like I was the captain at that time; that I had to be more critical of him than the other players because people could have thought that maybe I was just keeping him out of the wind, but that was not the problem. It was really fun playing with him.

His interview nomination

Christian: Do you want to nominate someone to be interviewed?

Bas: Well, there is one guy, Lloy Ball, he was the Olympic setter of the American national team and I think he did three Olympics and three Olympics with the goal to win. The first two, they didn’t make the quarterfinals, so that was a really big impact. That’s my story, how I remember it. You have to check it.

Then the third was in Beijing, Beijing Olympics, and their head coach, just before the first match, went home just because his father-in-law was murdered in China by a psychotic Chinese guy. So they played the first week without a coach and they won the Olympics.

This is a really great guy. If you are telling me – if there is one Olympian with the Olympic tattoo on the arm and the Olympic story and how things first didn’t work out and in the end, it did. That would be great.

Where can you find Bas van de Goor

Christian: Where can people find you?

Bas: The website of my foundation is  B-V-D-G-F.org; basvandegoorfoundation.org and this is where everything is written down.

Christian: Social media, anything?

Bas: No, no. I started but — We have, of course, the social media from the foundation, but me personally I have like the Insta and the Twitter and the LinkedIn, but I’m not using it now.

Bas van de Goor’s social profiles


Bas van de Goor Foundation website [in dutch]

Christian: Bas, thanks a lot.

Bas: You’re welcome.