1966:Elected to Council
1978-1986: Honorary Secretary and Treasurer
1987-2006: Honorary Life Vice President
1968: Board member
Nederlandse Badminton Bond
1960: Treasurer and member of the board of directors
International World Games
1980: Founder member
Herman Valken was working in Indonesia for electrical giants Philips when he got the badminton bug. He learned about the game while based in Jakarta but one day he received a telex asking if he would be interested in becoming treasurer of the Dutch badminton association Nederlandse Badminton Bond.
He accepted and on October 22, 1960 the NBB annual meeting appointed him treasurer and a member of the board of directors. That was the start of his career as a respected badminton administrator.
Four years later he was to begin a six-year term as President of the NBB. Within two years he was to start his IBF career as, in December 1966, he became a member of the council of the IBF.
After his appointment he wrote in the national badminton magazine:”I see my appointment as recognition that Dutch badminton is developing. I hope to contribute to further development of the game in the world. This implicitly will affect the further development of the game in the Netherlands in a positive manner.”
He was right about the Dutch development. During his first seven years on the Dutch badminton board the membership of active badminton players in the Netherlands trebled.
International recognition also brought a further honour at home when in 1967 he became a member of the board of the National Sports Federation (the forerunner of the National Olympic Committee). That same year he was the NBB representative at the inaugural meeting of the European Badminton Union in Frankfurt so was one of the EBU founding fathers.
By 1968 he had joined the five-strong board of the EBU and in 1969 he became Vice President, a position he held until being elected its third President at the 1977 Annual Delegates' Meeting in Malta. His appointment followed Stellan Mohlin’s decision to step aside from the daily business of EBU as a result of his election as President of the International Badminton Federation in 1976.
By now Valken’s importance as an administrator was widely recognised, having in 1968 been also appointed treasurer of the IBF.
Valken and Mohlin had worked well together and that was also the case when he and fellow Dutchman Emile ter Metz drove the EBU forward.
But that had already triggered a decision at domestic level. At the October 1968 annual meeting of the NBB he was re-elected as President but told delegates: “I hope this will be my last two years for Dutch badminton. Not because I do not like you, but I would like to avoid that you start to dislike me. The worst thing you can do as a leader of a sport association is to stick to your seat.”
He was true to his word and stepped down on September 19, 1970 as his focus switched to European and international level.
It was the same when he decided his time with the EBU was to come to an end. He retired in 1982 without any fuss, again deciding not to stand for re-election. His decision was greeted by a standing ovation at the Annual Delegates’ Meeting. He was succeeded by his Vice President, Heinz Barge of Germany.
Torsten Berg explains: “I believe he felt he had just done enough, the workload was growing with success, and he wanted to focus on his IBF jobs.”
In Dr Valken’s period as President of EBU both membership and tournaments grew steadily. New events and initiatives included the Europe Cup, a championships for National league winners, a Europe v Asia match, and the EBU Summer School, still existing today. A Technical Committee and a Development Committee were introduced and put to work in a very constructive way.
Berg highlights Valken’s contribution to IBF, explaining: “It was perhaps not all that obvious, but serving as honorary secretary and honorary treasurer from the era of Herbert Scheele well into the times of the professional office in Cheltenham, he served to assist a smooth transition.
“As a skilful writer of English he helped the general secretary, minuting himself many meetings under considerable time pressure during Council sessions and ensured the quality of the rest of the minutes.
“His diplomatic skills and his charm, as well as his understanding of both Asians and Europeans language - what was said and what was meant, but not said - were very useful to help the Council get along. I am sure his support to the Chair of Finance, whether Craig Reedie or Ton Verstoep, was also much appreciated.”
As well as his work within badminton, he was also a founder and honorary member of the International World Games Association, founded in Korea in 1980 and even after badminton was accepted as an Olympic sport he continued his support of the IWGA.
Torsten Berg insists: “I believe his contribution to the World Games cannot be overestimated. When badminton was not an Olympic sport, we needed another scene, and Stellan and Herman set out to create that scene - the World Games, with Ron Froehlich.
“Of course, when in 1985, we became a summer Olympic sport, this effort was no longer important for our sport, but Stellan and Herman, to their credit, continued to spend a lot of time and energy on the World Games.”
The relationship with Mohlin, in particular, was vital to the sporting work they did.
Berg sums up: “Herman was always there for the game, not for himself. Though he possessed excellent qualities as a President, looked elegant and smart, spoke English and German impeccably, and had fine diplomatic skills, he never showed ambitions.
“I believe he became EBU President more or less by accident, as he was the senior Vice President when Stellan was promoted to IBF.
“In many ways, Herman served as Stellan's quiet partner in the background, both in EBU, IBF and later in the World Games. A true gentleman!”
Torsten Berg, Denmark
Rob Ridder, Martijn Van Dooremalen and the Nederlandse Badminton Bond
-- By William Kings