SAVELKOUL Gene (NED) – PVE – Founder of SPGN, a Foundation for the Promotion of Disabled Sport, which staged World and European Events (1985-2021), clinics, training courses and symposia with military precision; Former ECVD Chair.



In 1980 at the Paralympic Games in Arnhem, The Netherlands, Gene had his first introduction to professional sports for disabled people. He started with swimming , then in 1985 he was asked with military officer colleagues to organise the Goalball World Championships. That led to the founding of SPGN (Stichting Promotie Gehandicaptensport Nederland) which he led until 2016, at which time the foundation was dissolved. His whole family was heavily involved in the foundation and its events. SPGN staged five World Championships of five different sports and various European Championships, but mostly sitting volleyball. He promoted and organised many clinics, training on the job, symposia, and other side activities.

After Pierre van Menen left ECVD, now ParaVolley Europe, he was in charge of the zone until 1997. He had been inspired by not only the Paralympic Games in The Netherlands, but also the unforgettable experiences of the Paralympic Games in USA and Australia.

When the Iron Curtain fell, he was allowed to go to countries where he had been banned as a soldier. It turned out that the former Soviet Union had a good organisation for disabled sports. He was then able to work in Latvia and Poland and so on.

Event involvement as SPGN Organiser included the following:

1991 – European Championships – 12 Nations
1995 – European Championships – 12 Nations
1995 – Classifier Clinic -17 Nations
1996 – Symposium Training Managers – 18 Nations
1997 – Donated two sitting volleyball courts – Croatia and Bosnia & Herzogovina
2000 – Sitting World Championships (Women) – 8 Nations
2006 – Triple World Championships (Sitting Men & Women) (Standing Men)

He retired from the military at a relatively young age, so he was able to devote his time to his passion for staging events and he fortunately proved successful in finding sponsors to enable them to happen. Before holding sitting events in Roermond (NED) and being able to accommodate participants in hotels, a character of early events included everyone sleeping in cottages in holiday parks.

People attributed the success of his SPGN events to his military background and experience of staging large scale events. He was fortunate to be able to engage former comrades from the army in important voluntary positions, though he still preferred to check all details himself.

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