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Our first ambassador

ABS Bouwteam is not a title sponsor to stand on the sidelines. The company itself sets a good example by training together with its employees for the Absolute Ghent 10 Mile. Alex and Lubana talk about how walking has helped them feel at home in their new work environment.

"A new chance I really want to take" Lubana

Our ambassador Lubana participates in the ABSoluut Gent 10 Mile.

Her country of origin has no tradition of road running; rather of playing football, basketball, tennis or swimming. Lubana herself enjoyed aerobics: “I am not the sporty type, but I like to work out. My drive is to stay healthy and to control my weight. By doing aerobics, I lost about 10 kilograms, but since moving to Belgium and the corona pandemic hit, I quit. When I arrived, all fitness centres had been forced to close. I have no running experience and am fully aware I will have to grit my teeth at the beginning. But I managed to learn Dutch in one year, so I guess the 10 Miles also is doable. Coaching is important to me and I intend to train with Club365 (click here for more information). I really have no idea of the frequency with which I will need to train, I will just follow the program.”

Already in her short professional career in Belgium so far, Lubana has proven there is no stopping her once she has set her mind to a certain goal.

“After I graduated as a civil engineer in Damascus, I came to Ghent to marry my husband, also Syrian but who was already here. It was so hard to leave my family and friends behind”, continues Lubana. “I envisaged a dream job, the job I do today in fact. I realised I had to learn to speak Dutch as fast as possible. Corona made that extra difficult, since classes only took place remotely, but I wanted it bad. I watched Dutch speaking series, such as the VRT series In Vlaamse Velden on the First World War, and always listen to Radio 1. At home, I stick memos to pieces of furniture and objects with their Dutch name. I am learning quickly, but the different dialects remain difficult. Finding a job has not been easy, but once I was given a chance, I took it with both hands. Out of gratitude I go the extra mile. I work hard and when I want something, I won’t let anything stop me from making it happen. I like to discover new things – so when I heard about running the 10 Miles with my colleagues, I did not hesitate.”

"Running was the ideal way to get to know my new colleagues”." Alex Verstraeten (56)

I started working for ABS Bouwteam in October 2021. During the recruitment process, I noticed that the company attaches great importance to sport. For example, there is a fitness room with a treadmill that I have already used a few times.

The weekly running training sessions for the ABSoluut Gent 10 Miles were a fantastic way to get to know the new colleagues. (laughs) That and our moments at the company bar. Once a week we put on our running shoes at five o'clock, which is so much nicer than coming home after a long day at work and having to get going again."

I've been running since I was 16, but I'd never run more than 10 miles. For many years I was a regular line judge in Frank De Bleeckere's team with whom I flagged at European Championships, World Cups and in the Champions League. The walking tests were quite challenging, especially as we got older. I had to give up a lot to flag at that level and weighed 65 kilos for 1m86. When I had to stop at 45, I wanted to enjoy more without breaking the seams. In addition, I now work with young referees.

I think a fit body is part of my role model. Although I don't really like running, that's why I always kept walking three times a week. Usually that was about five kilometers at 4 to 5 minutes per kilometer, but the 10 miles is outside my comfort zone in terms of distance. Every week we walk a kilometer further with our colleagues and we are now at thirteen kilometers. Without the group, I would tend to run at a pace that is impossible to sustain for that long. I already mentioned that running is actually not my favorite sport - that is badminton - but I think it's fantastic to go together for a goal. I am incredibly looking forward to making something of our participation in the ABSoluut Gent 10 Miles on September 18th.”