Ex-Yellow Tigers are satisfied with the decision of the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office: “Finally we have been listened to”

Gert Vande Broek. — © BELGIUM

According to the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office, Gert Vande Broek (56) has shown (mentally) transgressive behavior as coach of the national women’s team. Ex-internationals Valérie Courtois and Laura Heyrman are satisfied with that decision.

Mark Vermeiren

Vande Broek was discredited when three former internationals denounced his brutal coaching in a VRT program. The Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office of Volley Vlaanderen started an investigation that heard dozens of people last year – mainly players, but also people from the entourage. They testified about a climate of fear, insults and body shaming, but also about abuse of power. (Incidentally, there were also statements of support for VdB.) The Bondsparket concluded that Vande Broek was indeed guilty of (mentally) transgressive behaviour. Valérie Courtois (32), former Yellow Tiger, welcomes that decision. “Our testimonials have not just been brushed aside.”

Laura Heyrman, currently playing for a top Turkish team, is on the same page. “That statement proves that the facts really happened. We have finally been listened to, finally believed. Hopefully there will now be a proper framework that will ensure that young people no longer have to experience such things.”

The file now shifts to the Disciplinary Board, which a appropriate disciplinary sanction has to pass for the controversial coach, although it remains to be seen whether that body will follow the federal prosecutor’s office. Valérie Courtois is already looking further. “The step after a possible sanction is even more important. Our action should lead to a safer environment for this and the next generation of athletes. What was kept silent about twenty years ago in the sports world is no longer accepted today. And how does the Volleyball Association react, which has not yet done anything with all this information?”


Would a public apology from the coach suffice as a sanction for Courtois? “That would be a bit on the light side. Especially if those excuses, such as in gymnastics, are imposed. In such cases it is often about guilt and the realization of the consequences that certain actions can have. We haven’t noticed much of either case yet. How credible would any apologies be?”

Should this verdict lead to a dismissal of Vande Broek? “Do you think that with that conclusion of the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office, such a person can keep his position? An important player like Ilka Van de Vyver stated last summer that she did not want to play under the current national coach. The response was: OK, go ahead. And she’s not alone. At best, that would be realization (about a new coach, ed.) must grow internally within the union, and not be imposed from the outside.”

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