Dutch club Orion, the reigning national champions of the Netherlands, is facing hard times. After the team beat Bulgaria’s Levski Sofia in their CEV Challenge Cup Round of 16 match-up, it won the right to advance to the competition’s quarterfinals and face Russian squad Gazprom Surgut, located in West Siberia.
It just so happens that the trip, at over 2500 miles (4000 km) in length, would cost the team about 25,000 euros (about 30,000 dollars). That is money the team just doesn’t have. However, if they forfeit the game, CEV will impose them a fine of 20,000 euros and suspend them from European play for 3 years. Here is what Wijnan Geerdink, a team representative, had to say about the conundrum, on an interview given to Dutch website Gelderlander.nl:
Not traveling to Siberia is not an option. If we do not go we get a fine of 20,000 euros from CEV and we are also excluded for three years from playing European volleyball. That is a scandalously high fine, but I understand CEV. We should not have signed up. So now we are going to do everything to get that money together through individuals and companies. In addition, we are looking for sponsors.
The Dutch league is not among the top-tier of revenue-producing leagues in Europe, and some of Orion’s players have full time jobs to make ends meet. They are, however, anxious and optimistic about making it to Siberia. Here is what player Dik Heusinkveld had to say about it:
We really want to go to Siberia, even though it is very cold in January, at about -40 degrees Celsius (-40 F). I hope people will not let us out in the cold. We would love to make this trip, do it as a sportsman. In the league we play only a few top games, those European competitions are the best in the market. It would be a shame if we can not play it.
Heusinkveld even went so far as to design a donation thermometer to show how much money the club has gathered for the trip:
We want to show how much money is being donated for our trip. You would never imagine this in professional football, a club that has no money for an European match. But outside of playing football this is the fate for many top athletes. There is very little money available. Many people do not realize that, but many of Orion’s players work full-time to make ends meet at the end of the month. We do so with love, but it would be very strange that our top performance against Levski Sofia is not rewarded. We will do everything we can to realize that trip
The team is currently holding many fundraisers to make the trip possible, including selling tickets to the return match in Holland in advance.
'Laat Orion niet in de kou staan' #JoinOrion #volleybal – https://t.co/A6ytt4Fcbm
— Volleybal D'chem (@OrionVolleybal) December 23, 2017