Collaborating on impact, participation and community with SVO De Dreef

On Monday 15 January 2024, Utrecht University and soccer club SVO De Dreef signed a collaboration agreement. Along with FC Utrecht, SVO De Dreef is one of the three partners in the research project Team and Community Building. In this project, academics look at team building and team performance within FC Utrecht and they investigate whether or not societal impact, participation and sense of community can be enhanced by means of sports in the neighbourhood of Overvecht. SVO De Dreef is an important and reliable collaboration partner, which moreover enables the university to do research in the neighbourhood, says Anton Pijpers, President of the Executive Board. That is why this collaboration, besides the one with FC Utrecht is now also formalised in an agreement.

We want to work with SVO De Dreef in a full and equal partnership to create societal impact too, Anton Pijpers said at the signing of the agreement, and determine together with involved parties in Overvecht which issues are the most relevant and urgent to study. Listening seriously to what people have to say. One of the ways to do this is to intensively collaborate with societal partners and we're happy that SVO De Dreef is one of those partners.

Ondertekening samenwerking UU en SVO De Dreef

After introductory speeches by SVO De Dreef, Secretary Brahim Haddouche, Anton Pijpers on behalf of Utrecht University and FC Utrecht General Director Thijs van Es, the collaboration agreement was signed by the board of SVO De Dreef and Vice Dean of Research and Impact at the Faculty of Law, Economics and Governance Wolter Hassink. The agreements are especially relevant to the handling of collected information during and after the research.

After the signing, Abid Elidrissi (the neighbourhood coach at De Dreef and in Overvecht via FC Utrecht) and Kathrine van den Bogert (researcher at the School of Governance) held brief presentations and there were round-table discussions with the attending representatives of the University, FC Utrecht, SVO De Dreef and the Municipality of Utrecht.

Open Science in practice

What are the problems you want to solve, the questions you're going to study – people in the neighbourhood have a very good idea, researcher Kathrine van den Bogert says. This sometimes doesn't line up with the image external parties such as the university and FC Utrecht have, so you have to listen to that. And: researchers and students who do research should of course also share the outcomes with the people the research is about. That's often still lacking. We want to do that differently. Providing insight into the progress of the project. The agreement of 15 January was an example of that as well, and an example of what Open Science is. Various parties collaborate to discover how they can enforce each other in the societal activities taking place in and near the club. We're equal partners in this; we're doing this together.

What are the problems you want to solve, the questions you're going to study – people in the neighbourhood have a very good idea.

Kathrine van den Bogert

SVO De Dreef in Overvecht

The club really has a pivotal role in the neighbourhood, Van den Bogert says about De Dreef. An average soccer club has a number of teams which train and play matches in the weekend. At De Dreef, roughly 60 % are members but do not play competitively for all kinds of reasons (divorced parents, other duties such as care, big families). At the same time, the club does have many different forms of participation which enabled them to involve youngsters, and other target groups, in the club throughout the past years.

For instance, there are soccer teams consisting of boys and girls, organised by youth work (Stichting JoU is on this location next to De Dreef) as a weekly activity. Children from the international classes of Ithaka (refugee status holders) who play soccer on the field after school hours. A national judicial prevention programme in collaboration with sports organisations (funded by the Dutch Ministry of Justice and Security) for youngsters with difficult home situations, difficulty at school or growing up in poverty – to provide them an alternative to any criminal behaviour.

Because it's a soccer club, it's fun to go there

And then there are all kinds of non sports-based activities in the canteen, Van den Bogert continues. Such as the information event by bureau Halt, two days before New Year's Eve, on what is and isn't allowed in regard to fireworks; information events on how to handle money, on vaping. Usually for youngsters themselves, sometimes also for parents. Activities around the Utrecht Week of Respect. Information events on debt counselling. And of course evenings to watch the soccer matches in the Africa Cup, in part also jointly organised with youth work. And the youngsters also confirm: because it's a soccer club, it's fun to go there, Van den Bogert says.

The neighbourhood coach somewhat streamlines and professionalises the activities

The neighbourhood coach, the volunteers and the artificial grass court


The FC Utrecht-appointed neighbourhood coach Abid Elidrissi's duties include the trainings in the extra curricular sports programmes in the framework of the Brede School (Broad School), for primary-school children in Utrecht. But he does so much more, Van den Bogert emphasises. SVO De Dreef does very much, but they are all volunteers (all the trainers, supervisors, board members). The neighbourhood coach supports in all these activities in order to make them just a little more streamlined and professional. One example of this is that he provides training courses to all trainers, and that also helps in matters such as appealing to new trainers and supervisors (among the parents or older youths, for example) because they receive supervision in what is expected of them.

During the round-table discussions, two subjects were on the agenda: how do you as FC Utrecht and the university create meaningful impact in the neighbourhood? And: increasing sports participation in the neighbourhood, and especially how the societal impact of clubs like SVO De Dreef can be included in the facilitation of public sports facilities, such as an artificial grass court. With such a field, the club could both provide more possibilities to the current target groups and appeal to new target groups.

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Ronde tafel gesprekken bij SVO De Dreef


Kathrine van den Bogert and Chris Noij, the organisers of the meeting, look back with a good feeling. It was beautiful to see how the various perspectives came together at the discussion tables. It may have taken some getting used to sometimes, but it was very valuable anyway, Noij says.

The people of the university, FC Utrecht and SVO De Dreef were really listening to each other very well during the discussions, Van den Bogert adds, while they are indeed people who usually don't talk that quickly. It was much fun to see that come about. It was really equal. An inspiring meeting – also to other collaborations of the university.

More information

Would you like to know more? Please contact Kathrine van den Bogert ( or Chris Noij ( of the School of Governance (USG).