World water polo lost a true disciple of the game when two-time Team Netherlands Olympian Wouly de Bie passed away suddenly in Qatar this week. De Bie was due to play a major organisational role in the Men's and Women's Water Polo Tournaments at the World Aquatics Championships - Doha 2024.

The Royal Dutch Swimming Federation remembered the free-spirited de Bie with stories of his past, saying:

He was once afraid of water, but as a water polo goalkeeper, he is a world star.

Wouly de Bie was once afraid of water, but he shone as a water polo goalkeeper at the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow and at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles. This morning (August 31) the former player of KZC Beverwijk and Robben passed away unexpectedly at the age of 65 in Doha, Qatar. 

The KNZB wishes Wouly's family and acquaintances much strength for the loss of a "beautiful person."

In recent years, Wouly lived in Doha, Qatar. There he was the national selector and headquarters director in the main international swimming events. Dutch participants in the open water and Swimming World Cups or the World Swimming Championships in short course could always count on his personal support.

Image Source: Wouly de Bie Facebook page/World Aquatics

Wouly made his first acquaintances in the swimming world at the KZC in Beverwijk. He was seven years old when he got his first swimming certificate. Mrs Pleging, a friend of his mother's, persuaded her to take young Wouly to a swimming meet. Two years later, Piet Mooij asked to try water polo as well. It turned out to be a way of life. Following an accident by regular goalkeeper Anton van der Mast, Wouly took his place under the crossbar. He never left.

Wouly learned from goalkeeping great Evert Kroon that he was going to stay with De Robben as goalkeeper. Wouly went to Hilversum, but he missed the 1976 selection because he was too young at 18. A year later he was part of the national team. In 1980 and 1984, Wouly formed Orange's goalkeeping partnership with Ruud Misdorp. Both had their qualities and there was neither first nor second goalkeeper. After Los Angeles, Wouly stopped playing internationally.

The common thread of Wouly's life remains his free spirit. He eventually took it all over the world. In 1986, he left his job in the military police to train a team in Kuwait. This was followed by France, New Zealand and Canada (coaching both the latter national teams). Between 2002 and 2009, he worked in Venezuela until he went to Qatar.

Wouly leaves five children and wife Sheryl Ordiz de Bie and will be missed by them and the water polo community at large.