Sport in The Hague

Sport and games have been around a long time. And have been everywhere, so also in The Hague. Let me take you on a short tour of sport venues in The Hague.


Malieveld is so-named because it was where Hagenaars played a game called Jeu de mail or Pall-mall. Poles were placed at either end of a long track. The players used a bat (the maille) to hit a wooden ball from one pole to the other. The aim was to do so in as few strokes as possible. The Boorlaan follows this track today, within the much larger park of Malieveld.

Drawing of a game of pell-mell between Frederick V of the Palatinate and Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange by Adriaen van de Venne, c. 1620-1 - British Museum

In our day and age the Malieveld is often used for events. That was also the case in the past. The Hague militia (the voluntary law enforcement officers) held their exercises there.

Militia of The Hague excercising at Malieveld - Iven Besoet - 1760 Coll. HGA

And in 1852, harness races were held in the Malieveld to mark the birthday of Queen Sophie, wife of King William III.

Harness races 1852 - Coll. HGA


In news broadcasts we often see clips of ministers and state secretaries being interviewed at the Binnenhof. These take place close to where the “Caetsbaan” was in the 16th century. This “caetsen” was a precursor to our current tennis.

Kaatsbaan Herinneringsplaquette Binnenhof Den Haag
Binnenhof Den Haag


The Hofvijver also offered opportunities for entertainment. Already in the 14th century jousting with boats was popular. Two boats were equipped with rowers and coxswain. Each boat had a “champion,” a nobleman who was the most important participant.

Jousting at the Hofvijver - c. 1625 - Haags Historisch Museum

He stood at the front of the rowing boat with a large wooden lance. The lance had a flat head on both sides. The boats rowed past each other with full force and each noble tried to push the other off his boat. Whoever remained standing was the winner, and could continue to the next round.

Even today there is a yearly rowing event at the Hofvijver, albeit of a more friendly character. The Haagse rowing club ‘Pelargos’ organizes a competition where companies, politicians, students and other interested people row for charity.


In 1925 football club ADO had a problem. The area on the Wassenaarseweg where they had long played was sold to be built on with housing. Fortunately, at that time the Zuiderpark was under development and its design included sports fields. This enabled ADO to move to the Zuiderpark, where the club  was provided with no fewer than three adjacent playing fields. These playing fields evolved  into a serious football stadium, which was not only used for football:  in 1976 it was the venue of a Rolling Stones concert.

The Zuiderpark design also provided for a swimming pool. This swimming pool was opened in 1925 by alderman W. Drees, who later became prime minister.

Willem Drees monument Buitenhof Den Haag
Willem Drees monument Buitenhof Den Haag

In the 1930s roller skating became very popular in The Hague.  Although there were many fewer cars in the city than today, city government felt it was too dangerous for children  to skate on the streets. So the idea of a roller skate rink in the Zuiderpark was born. Apparently this project was very complicated, because it was not built until the later 1950s It is still in use by  the ‘Eerste Haagse Rolschaats Club Marathon’ (= the First Roller Hockey Club of The Hague).

Sportcampus Den Haag - foto Piet Vernimmen (1)
Sportcampus The Hague - photo Piet Vernimmen

In the meantime, a lot has changed in the area of sport in Zuiderpark. There is now an indoor swimming pool and after ADO Den Haag moved to their new stadium in Forepark, the Sport Campus Zuiderpark was built. This will be the venue for the Invictus Games 2020.

You spend time outdoors and you get to know The Hague better when you invite family, friends or colleagues for a bike tour through The Hague

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2 thoughts on “Sport in The Hague”

  1. Loved the Malieveld history – brilliant! I live at Houtrust, an area long associated with sports. From its late 1930’s inception to war time rallies to the centre of much of Den Haag’s social and sporting life until the 1990’s, Houtrusthal has featured almost every type of sports in the 20thC.

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