NATO Cultural & Sports Clubs: Where It All Started

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    Sports and culture have always played an essential role in the lives of NATO staff,

    as the following excerpt from a Staff Centre brochure from the 1970s shows:

    A staff centre is obviously not something that grows by itself. The idea was

    first mooted when NATO was still in Paris. However, nothing very definite was

    done about it until the move to Brussels in 1968 when NATO’s location on the

    outskirts of the city made it almost a necessity. A number of cultural and

    sports clubs, known collectively by the acronym NCSC, had been in existence

    for many years under the umbrella of the Staff Association. The question in

    Brussels was how they could best continue their activities. The obvious

    answer was the Staff Centre. Alas, easier said than done. It took a number of

    years and the unrelenting determination of some members of the staff,

    including the late Bob de Vries and Loren Goldman, to persuade member

    countries to finance the building costs and this only on the condition that the

    operational costs were met by the staff themselves.


    And so the Staff Centre came into being with its football pitch, its tennis

    courts, its children’s sandpit, its swimming pool, for which the late Tom Morris

    fought so hard, its restaurants and bars, etc. It has since been enlarged, in the

    first place because success breeds success and then, too, because it enjoyed

    the effective and constant support from the Administration. A “bubble” now

    covers two tennis courts and a sports complex has been added to the main

    building. Soon, if not already, the Centre will be a match for the best in

    Brussels, indeed anywhere else, at an international organization.


    The article draws to a close with the author’s hope that the brochure full of photos

    and drawings will entice everyone to join what he called a “real home away from

    home”. At the time there were music and bridge clubs, plus various clubs whose

    activities took place outside the Staff Centre (flying, art, cinema, horse riding,

    gardening, fishing, stamp collecting, sailing). The staff could even make theatre

    bookings! Most of the clubs listed in the brochure are still in existence; some have

    disbanded, while others have been created.


    NATO has undergone sweeping transformations since that time – successive rounds

    of enlargement, an evolving geopolitical situation and consequently new roles for

    The organization, a move to the new Headquarters – yet its commitment to the

    fundamental values of the Washington Treaty remains unchanged. We at the NATO

    Cultural and Sports Clubs (NCSC) have done our best to weather those changes.

    While the governance model of the Staff Centre has also changed, the NCSC

    without a doubt remain necessary to the well-being of the staff of an international

    organization of this magnitude. Like our colleagues of yesteryear, we want to see the

    Staff Centre, like its predecessor, achieve its potential; we hope its members and its

    staff will make it a “home away from home” where we form enduring bonds in this

    international civil and military environment.


    The NCSC is proud to wear the colours of the Organization and strive to play a

    positive, constructive role in its life. If you have any ideas or suggestions to share

    with us, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

    Find us

    NATO Sport Centre
    1, Rue Arthur Maes
    1130 Brussels

    Find us

    NATO Sport Centre
    Reception Phone Number:

     02/808 22 32

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