15 international sports you can easily play in the Netherlands

The Netherlands is famously known for being a die-hard football nation — but did you know that the country also offers a plethora of international sports?

Every country has at least one sport that is considered to be an intrinsic part of its culture and society.

Since so many internationals established the Netherlands as their humble abode, they have brought along a variety of national sports to share with the Dutch. 🤩

You’d actually be surprised to know that your local sports club will offer more than your usual mix of physical activities! 

From rugby to floorball (yes, floorball), here are 15 international sports that any superjock or rookie can find in the Netherlands. 👇

1. Netball

Believe it or not, the good feeling you get when you sink a shot into a hoop isn’t exclusive to basketball. 

Netball involves two teams of seven players who pass a ball around with the ultimate goal of shooting it into a net. 

Sound familiar? Well, there’s a slight alteration. With this sport, there’s no dribbling, no backboard, no wild Stephen Curry fans, and a little less bumping and shoving. 😉

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The general rule of the game is that players can take one step before passing and must shoot within three seconds. Super challenging!

📍 Where can I play netball in the Netherlands? The Netherlands is currently booming with netball clubs. In fact, four major cities offer the sport: Rotterdam, Utrecht, The Hague, and Amsterdam.

2. Gridiron (American football)

Hut! Hut! Hut! What? Image: Pixabay

If you’ve watched at least one All-American Hollywood film from the 2000s, then you should already be acquainted with American football — or at least the concept of it. 🏈

Gridiron football became a leading spectator sport in the United States and Canada. It achieved peak popularity, particularly amongst the US crowd, and is now a forever favourite for colleges and universities in the country.

While gridiron has not yet been taken up by the rest of the world to the same extent as other sports, it certainly caught the eye of the Dutch.

📍 Where can I play gridiron in the Netherlands? These days, you can find a number of clubs across the country that offer American Football, from the capital city of Amsterdam all the way to Maastricht.

3. Rugby

Rugby in the Netherlands is no joke… Image: Pixabay

Are you not averse to being pushed, tossed, and kicked around like a beach ball? Or, in simpler terms, do you like pain? Then you’ll find pleasure in playing rugby. 😬

As any non-athletic, sissy-ish girl would describe the British sport (aka, the writer), it involves two teams of 15 players who run to opposite sides of a massive arena with the ultimate goal of flinging the ball to the ground.

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Apparently, the Dutch love a good “no guts, no glory” proverb and cultivated a number of rugby unions over the years. 

So, any forgotten dreams you have of becoming a rugby champ can now be realised in the Netherlands — but not without a bruise or two (or ten).

📍 Where can I play rugby in the Netherlands? Here are just some cities that offer rugby clubs in the Randstad: The Hague, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Delft, Hilversum, Utrecht, Leiden, Amersfoort, Almere, Haarlem.

4. Australian football

A long-lost child of rugby and American football, Australian football or “footy”, is one of the most fast-paced games in the world — and the Dutch love to play it! 🤩

It’s a contact sport that requires two teams of 18 players, and the general objective is to score by kicking the ball between four goalposts. 

So, if you’re one to enjoy the familiar, ruthless ways of rugby and American football, then chances are you’d like footy as well! It continues to grow amongst the Dutch crowd. 

📍 Where can I play Australian football in the Netherlands? If you’re looking to join a team and get to know the sport, there are several cities to look for.

5. Hurling

Who would’ve thought hurling would be an admired sport in the Netherlands? Image: Depositphotos

Most commonly recognised as an Irish pastime, hurling is quite the ancient sport, with Irishmen playing it as far back as 1272 BC! 😲

Hurling scratches a similar itch to field hockey and lacrosse — with it being a stick-and-ball sport.

It calls for two teams of 15 players, who compete to score by driving the ball (concrete in weight and texture) through a goal across a large field.

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While it’s certainly long in the tooth, it’s also said to be the world’s fastest field game. The ball can travel up to a whopping 180 km per hour in a single match!

📍 Where can I play hurling in the Netherlands? In an effort to show off their light-footed nature, the Dutch opened up hurling clubs in several cities, namely The Hague, Amsterdam, Eindhoven, Maastricht, and Groningen

6. Cricket

Despite cricket’s polite reputation, quite some sledging goes on. Image: Pixabay

Ah, cricket. Not quite yet the ultimate global sport — but still the second most popular in the world. In fact, in the few countries where it is played (the Netherlands included), cricket is worshipped like a religion.

Introduced by the Brits, it’s a strategic game played by two teams of 11 players, with one side batting a ball in an effort to bag runs and the other on the field trying to stop their opponent from scoring. 

📍 Where can I play cricket in the Netherlands? The Dutch adopted the sport from the Brits — and it can now be found in various clubs across the country. So, if you’re seriously considering playing it, it’s high time to catch up on all the latest Cricket jargon. 

7. Lacrosse

Lacrosse and hockey go hand in hand, hence why it’s so popular in the Netherlands! Image: Depositphotos

A sport that’s swiftly taking the world by storm, lacrosse requires as much finesse and trickery as it does strength and agility. 

Many parts of lacrosse are akin to hockey, so much so that it’s often said to be “hockey on land”. It originated as a Native American sport, where it used to be a battle between hundreds of tribesmen in the days of yore.

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Now, it’s competitively played by two teams of ten players who master a racket-like stick (or crosse) to throw, catch, and carry a ball down a large field and into the opposing goal. 

📍 Where can I play lacrosse in the Netherlands? The Dutch have taken a particular liking to this sport, with 14 active clubs offering it in the country.

8. Floorball

Back in the day, floorball had quite a popular rep amongst Dutch high schools. Commonly called “uni-hockey”, it was often played in P.E. classes during the cold season.

However, the sport never quite gained the same traction in the Netherlands as it did with its Swedish founders. It’s almost equivalent to ball or floor hockey but slightly easier to learn and requires lighter equipment. 

📍 Where can I play floorball in the Netherlands? Whether you’re looking to relive your days as a floorball top dog or simply want to become one, you might be interested to know the Netherlands is heaving with floorball clubs.

9. Softball

The Netherlands even has their own national softball team! Image: Pixabay

Many people often wonder why baseball is such a crowd-pleaser. In short, the sport perfectly embodies that light-hearted team spirit — and softball easily echoes this. 

While softball may not be as mainstream as baseball, it’s still a respected sport in its own right.

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First introduced in the US, the game requires two teams of nine players, and the objective is almost the same as baseball, with a few minor differences.

Softballs are larger than baseballs, the pitches are always thrown underhand instead of overhand, and a softball field is generally smaller than that of baseball.

📍 Where can I play softball in the Netherlands? In Europe, the Netherlands is a top-ranked country in softball leagues. That being said, clubs can be found literally anywhere, so it’s time to grab a bat and swing for the fences.

10. Badminton

Whack the ‘cock! Image: Depositphotos

The speed of the game, the intense reflex and skills, and the supreme feeling of doing a jump smash — there are so many reasons why badminton is such a fashionable sport.

It’s a game that doesn’t dominate for being the biggest but more for its control and technique. It’s one of the only sports out there where you can go from defending to attacking in a matter of seconds. 😎

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Played in either doubles or singles, the object is to score points by striking a shuttlecock with a racket over the net. You’re deemed the winner once the shuttlecock lands on the ground of the opposing courtside. 

📍 Where can I play badminton in the Netherlands? Last year marked 90 years of badminton in the Netherlands, and the fact that this is publicly known shows how much the Dutch love the game. Regardless of your city, there’s sure to be at least one badminton club nearby.  

11. Field Hockey

In the Netherlands, field hockey isn’t just a sport anymore. It’s a way of life. Image: Depositphotos

Despite little sports coverage, field hockey is actually the second most popular sport in the Netherlands — right after football, of course. In fact, 350,000 Dutchies enjoy playing the sport, which is staggering for such a small country.

Field hockey is an outdoor game played by two teams of 11 players, who each use sticks to hit and aim a ball into their opponent’s goal across the field. 

Considering its reputation for being one of the most skill-based games out there, it’s no wonder why it’s so popular — and the Dutch know that feeling of scoring a goal and the buzz of the crowd all too well. 🤙

📍 Where can I play field hockey in the Netherlands? While you might not see much of the sport in action on your television screen, the Netherlands does offer heaps of field hockey clubs to attend in person, 320 to be exact.

12. Rowing

Rowing is one oar-some sport! Image: Depositphotos

It’s widely known that boating is a sought-after pastime amongst the Dutchies. One particular time when they make great use of their inextricable link to water is through rowing!

READ MORE | How the Dutch have won the war against water (in style) [Video inside!]

Rowing is one of the oldest and most prestigious sports worldwide, first introduced by Egyptians as early as 1430 BC.

While the concept of it is quite simple, actually doing it is anything but. It involves pushing a boat from one point to another as fast as you can using wooden paddles (or oars). 

The Netherlands is bursting at the seams when it comes to rowing clubs — and it’s not the least bit surprising. Navigating the ways of the water just seems to be in their blood. 🚣

📍 Where can I do rowing in the Netherlands? There are 68 rowing clubs in the Netherlands, with 20 specifically made for students!

13. Capoeira

Capoeira is quite the crowd-pleaser in the Netherlands! Image: Depositphotos

It’s not often that you get to combine your love for dancing with some sort of self-defence, so one might be thrilled to discover the Netherlands offers just that. 💃

Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art disguised as a dance that’s performed to musical instruments and traditional songs from Brazil. It consists of specific offensive and defensive movements, from kicks to sweeps, as well as acrobatics.

Unlike in other martial arts, the person doing it is constantly in motion. So, let’s just say you’re sure to get a really good workout from it.

📍 Where can I do capoeira in the Netherlands? While capoeira groups in the country can be scarce, there are a number of places for you to enhance your dance-fighting skills.

14. Judo

Fun fact: the Japanese named the sport, Judo, because it means “gentle”. Image: Depositphotos

While we’re on the topic of self-defence, Judo is a universally-practised Japanese martial art that helps people develop strength, flexibility, agility, balance, and endurance.

There are several competitive moves used in Judo, some include throwing, pinning down, and forcing a submit through a joint lock or a choke. 

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One of the sport’s most notable benefits is that it covers techniques that can be performed by any average person. You don’t see many 70-year-olds wrestling, but you do see them doing Judo! 😉

📍 Where can I do judo in the Netherlands? The sport continues to gain an international reputation, and the Netherlands, in particular, has a rich history of Judo Olympic champions. It’s been popular in the country since the ’60s and continues to fill up the yellow pages to this day.

15. Motocross

The Dutch have mastered the art of motocross! Image: Depositphotos

While motocross isn’t as accessible to the general public as mainstream sports, like basketball or football, it still holds a special place for the small community of rad racers.

In motocross, participants ride motorcycles, typically over dirt terrain, on courses that stretch from one to three miles long. It’s a physically demanding sport that requires you to throw down all the biggest and gnarliest tricks. 🏍️

New talent in the Netherlands continues to push the sport forward, with some of the world’s most elite dirt bike racers being Dutch.

📍 Where can I do motocross in the Netherlands? The country boasts a whole lot of iconic tracks for you to ride on.

As a country that breeds some of the most talented athletes in the world, it’s no wonder the Dutch love sports as much as they do. Naturally, we have internationals to thank for bringing such a diverse sporting world to the land of orange.

Have you played any of these sports in the Netherlands? Tell us in the comments below! 👇

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in September 2022 and was fully updated in September 2023 for your reading pleasure.

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Gaelle Salem
Gaelle Salem
Born and raised on the island of Sint Maarten, Gaelle moved to the Netherlands in 2018 to attend university. Still trying to survive the erratic Dutch wind and rain, she has taken up the hobby of buying a new umbrella every month. You can probably find her in the centre of The Hague appreciating the Dutch architecture with a coffee in one hand and a slice of appeltaart in the other.

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