In her police blue cycling outfit, Yva Geluk will be competing for the medals at the World Police and Fire Games (WPFG) in Rotterdam this summer. The operational specialist B at the Rotterdam police, a cyclist and living in Middelburg, is one of the participants in the large multi-sport event at the end of July.
Registration for the WPFG opened this week and 32-year-old Geluk was quick to sign up. She rides with the cycling selection of the Dutch Police Sports Association and is the sports director of the police team. “We also ride at European and World Championships for police forces. It's a great club: we share a special bond, that is our work. The police can be organized hierarchically, but on the bike it is easy to talk to each other. Someone who just comes in won't chat with the chef straight away, but when you're ride in the peloton it's different. Everyone is equal on a bicycle and you don't know that your opponent might be the chief of police."
The World Police and Fire Games will be held in the Netherlands for the first time. In Rotterdam, police officers, firefighters, customs officers and prison guards from all over the world will play sports together and compete for medals in more than sixty sports. In addition to well-known sports such as hockey, football and athletics, there are also special variants. The special fire sport ultimate firefighter, for example, in which participants in a simulated fire situation have to roll out a fire hose as quickly as possible, climb stairs and drag a dummy doll. Or dragon boat racing and arm wrestling. The event expects to welcome between eight and ten thousand people in Rotterdam and the surrounding area.
Geluk will be active in three disciplines at the WPFG. The road race, the time trial and mountainbiking. She is part of the semi-professional international women's peloton and is especially looking forward to the road race. “I do a race somewhere every week: UCI races or club races. I rode a multi-day race in the Czech Republic last year.”
But that race didn't go as planned. Geluk fell and struggled to return, she became afraid. “I was constantly scared in the peloton and of course that's not good for an athlete. Whenever things got tense in a race, my head would lock up. When there was going to be a sprint, I squeezed the breaks, because I didn't want to ride between them. I thought it would go away on its own, but I should have seen a sports psychologist much sooner. Towards the end of 2021 I finally got through it and did a few beach races. That went pretty well."
Hard day of work
Geluk doesn't want to become a permanent part of the peloton and to lead a professional life as a cyclist. “I never wanted to become a pro,” says the police officer, who only started cycling seriously eight years ago. “I don't want to be my life completely depending on cycling. To me, it seems a monotonous and lonely existence to only be involved with sports. That also comes with a lot of pressure. It feels good to be able to cycle after a hard day of work with the police."
That hard day of work takes place at the offices of the Rotterdam police. As a graduated criminologist, she first worked for the police in Breda, now she is investigating shooting incidents in the Maasstad. “What do the criminal organizations behind those shootings look like? What are the trends in those organizations? Is there a connection with drug trafficking? These are questions that I try to answer by analyzing and researching. A lot of my work is done indoors, but I do want to keep in touch with the uniform service, so sometimes I go out on the street.”
The WPFG was first organized in the United States in the 1980s based on the idea that sports are good for the profession. Why couldn't it be turned into an international event with a competitive element? Since then, the WPFG has been held every two years (due to the corona pandemic, the edition in Rotterdam has been postponed from 2021 to 2022). Geluk heard about the event through the security region. “I'm trying to get my colleagues excited now. We have quite a lot of sporty employees of course, because you have to be fit to work for the police. At European Championships I already enjoyed seeing all those other countries and experiencing the opening ceremony and the closing party. The level is not always super high, but it is also about solidarity and relaxation. And the experience of being able to experience something great.”
Geluk will enjoy the WPFG, because the opening ceremony is in De Kuip, Feyenoord's stadium, where the WPFG wants to treat the participants to a warm welcome and show respect for the work they do. The organization sees it as a thank you and support for the emergency services / athletes, for their commitment to the safety of everyone.