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Wim van Noortwijk Grand Masters World Cup Australia 2016
Wim Van Noortwijk at the Grand Masters Hockey World Cup in Australia, 2016.

It is with great sadness that I must tell you that Wim died peacefully this morning after a long battle with cancer. It was typical of the man that he insisted on being part of our Board Meeting [of the World Grant Masters Association – WGMA] by Skype less than two weeks ago so that he could hand over in person to John Willmott, our new President.

It was one of his last wishes that a message of thanks should be sent on his behalf to all members of the WGMA family for their friendship and support.

In return all of us who enjoy Grand Masters hockey will always remember and be grateful for the contribution that Wim has made to all our lives.

Adrian Stephenson, Hon. Secretary WGMA.


Wim was born in Rotterdam in 1941 and grew up in an environment where football rather than hockey was the main game. After a spell in the military, Wim enjoyed a fast rise in the business world which meant that there wasn’t much time for sport although he had the innate Dutch love of small boats and watersport and also gained a pilot’s licence to fly light aircraft. He later developed a love affair with skiing, visiting Austria several times every year where he proudly qualified as an instructor.

Wim’s colourful and highly successful business life included a spell as Kerry Packer’s man in Europe – the source of many of Wim’s favourite stories. He became President of ISSA (International Shipsuppliers and Services Association) in 2000 and served two four-year terms during which he made a significant contribution to the organisation.

Hellevoetsluis in the south-west of the Netherlands was the port from which William of Orange set sail for England in 1688 and Wim was a leading figure in the town which he had made his home. In 1988 he took an official party from Hellevoetsluis on his boat to be part of the 300th Anniversary celebrations of the landing at Brixham and enjoyed being entertained in Torbay on the Royal Yacht Britannia.

His hockey career began shortly after this in the early 1990s when his young daughter Edith started playing at HC Voorne, the local club in Hellevoetsluis. Wim was encouraged to join the club himself and to play in their ‘social’ veterans' team. As with anything to which he turned his hand Wim was soon at the heart of activities within the club – player, umpire, sponsor and more.

Friend and WGMA Technical Director Jaap Quarles van Ufford remembers those early years.

I met Wim for the first time in 1999 when he became a league umpire in the same District (Zuid-Holland) where I had started three years earlier. I distinctly remember how he immediately made a mark for himself soon after he joined: during a Rules Briefing for umpires in the District everybody was complaining about the KNHB being stingy and only handing out warm-up jackets to the elite umpires in the National League. In his typical manner, Wim stood up and said, "Let's stop moaning everyone, just leave your required size with me and I'll make sure everybody in our district has a jacket at the next meeting".

Everybody looked at each other and said, "Who is this guy?", but sure enough within a few weeks everybody had their jacket (with an advertisement for one of Wim's companies on it, of course, but who cares) and our District became the envy of the other five Districts in The Netherlands. Every now and then I run into people who are still wearing one of those jackets. I never umpired together with Wim at that time, as I was promoted to the National League a year later and Wim was happy to stay and "do his thing" in the bottom leagues. Wim did not umpire for the District League for long, because after a couple of years the Men’s 1st team of his club HC Voorne was relegated to the lowest division, where no league umpires were allocated, so he decided that his loyalty was more to his club than to KNHB and from then on mostly umpired the home matches of their 1st Men’s and Ladies’ teams. During those years he also played for the Voorne veterans and he was President of HC Voorne for a number of years.

On his 60th birthday in 2001 Wim became a member of the rapidly growing Dutch Over 60s club ‘De Zestigplussers’ and was in the party that travelled to Kuala Lumpur in 2002 for the Grand Masters World Cup. This was at the very beginning of the formation of the World Grand Masters Association (WGMA). Wim continued to be a part of WGMA events as player and umpire and in 2008 was invited by WGMA to become the Board’s adviser on matters relating to Umpiring and Sponsorship. Three years later he was asked to join the Board as Vice President (Europe) and in 2014 succeeded Peter Child as the 2nd President of WGMA.

He was one of WGMA’s two representatives on the FIH Masters Hockey Panel which later became the International Masters Hockey Board Working Group and which was ultimately responsible for the formation of World Masters Hockey, bringing together the activities of WGMA and the International Masters Hockey Association (IMHA) in one body for all age groups on the insistence of FIH. Wim became a member of the first Board of WMH in 2018 and resigned after the first General Assembly in August 2019.

Wim was always a strong advocate of Grand Masters hockey and the fact that at a certain age there was a difference in the expectations of both players and supporters. The special combination of competitive hockey and enjoyable social event was unique to Grand Masters tournaments. He campaigned for the continuation of the separate development of Grand Masters hockey within WMH as a way to maintain the character of events for the older age groups and was disappointed when this was overruled.

Through his almost 20 years of Grand Masters hockey Wim became an integral part of every event: a strong President of WGMA, an impresario of the opening event of each tournament, a cool head behind the scenes in support of the TD, an umpire or technical official whenever required and a competitive player whenever he took to the field – to everyone he was both a figurehead and a friend.

All those who know Wim from the hockey world will identify with these sentences extracted from the obituary published by ISSA, his former shipping association:

His was a presidency chock-full of hard work, fun, surprises and major initiatives. If you went along for the ride – as many did – you were seldom disappointed.

Wim was a charismatic man and we shall not see his like again. From his famous ‘helicopter’ view we salute him and wish his ‘coming days’ ‘crystal clear’ and deservedly peaceful.

Shipping or hockey, the man himself remained the same – “Farewell, amigo”.

Wim van Noortwijk
Officer of the Order of Orange-Nassau, awarded the silver medal of the Carnegie Hero Fund, Member of Honour of WGMA, Honorary Member of NHC 60+, Honorary Member of HC Voorne, Hellevoetsluis.

Adrian Stephenson & Jaap Quarles van Ufford,
5 December 2020


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