After 29 years, today is Frank Kemperman’s last day as chairman and show director of the famous “CHIO” Aachen horse show, but he has not escaped completely from the German venue.
Described as Aachen’s most famous Dutchman, Kemperman, 67, is stepping down as Chairman of the Aachen-Laurensberger Rennverein, a role he took on in 1993. He hands over the reins to the new board comprising of Birgit Rosenberg and Philip Erbers, but will remain as a member of the Supervisory Board. He will continue helping with the current project involving the expansion of the grounds.
Born in a small village near Nimwegen, Kemperman started off as a groom. He was attracted to horses as a child – albeit against his parent’s wishes: His father would have preferred to see him on the football pitch. But young Frank continued along his own path.
Later, he worked in the press offices at equestrian sport events, was manager of a football club, and co-organized Olympic Games in executive positions.
He was “somewhere in the Ardennes” when Kurt Capellmann, the President of the ALRV at the time, ranked him and offered him the job at the famous Aachen-Laurensberger Rennverein.
“First of all, I was rather astonished that the Germans wanted a Dutchman as their Chairman,” he said, but he accepted with total conviction and took over the job in September 1993.
Many chapters in Aachen’s history carry Kemperman’s mark. The expansion of the showgrounds, the digital transformation, and the transition of the tournament from an equestrian show into an international event. The showgrounds at the Aachen Soers were modernized in the run-up to the FEI World Equestrian Games in 2006, an event Kemperman notes as a highlight from almost three decades.
In his job, Kemperman always remained as close as possible to the sport, in the midst of it all, always an open ear for the participants and the grooms too.
From his desk, Kemperman could look and see the final warm-up arena for the show-jumpers. Straight ahead – during the CHIO – is the coffee bar, which is particularly popular among the athletes.
Keeping a close eye on proceedings is still extremely important to him, as is promoting youth, a commitment that the CHIO Aachen has constantly extended and pushed over the past years. “As a young grandad I find that twice as good,” Kemperman said.
Questioned a few days ago as to what is most important on the new board’s list of things to learn, Kemperman gave a typical “Kempi” answer: “Well, they are Germans – so they can’t ride a bike anywhere near as good as me.” Kemperman’s credo is that it is always helpful in life to have a sense of humour, and he doesn’t take life or above all himself too seriously.
“Kempi” isn’t melancholic when he reflects back on the past. He is happy with what he has achieved for the CHIO and the sport, and at the fact that he will now have more time for the family, particularly his granddaughter, Florentine. “I had a great time here at the CHIO,” he said, even if “it is not easy to say goodbye.”
He says his wife has suggested he try his hand at gardening, although he says he can’t tell the difference between flowers and weeds.
He feels a strong identification with the CHIO and ALRV: “When I said ‘we’ up until now, I meant the CHIO. That always got me into trouble with my wife.”
That might improve in the future because he has no high hopes as far as gardening is concerned.