Johan Cruyff Academy Tilburg celebrates 10 years

December 9, 2019

Johan Cruyff Academy Tilburg celebrates 10 years

Johan Cruyff Academy Tilburg celebrates its 10 year history recalling the first graduation of elite athletes who combined their sports career with a degree in sport marketing

Ten years ago, Johan Cruyff opened the Johan Cruyff Academy Tilburg as part of Fontys, a university of applied sciences in the southern Netherlands. Thanks to this initiative, elite athletes in that region have better opportunities to combine their sport with a four-year degree in sport marketing. With colleagues and the first graduates of Johan Cruyff Academy Tilburg, we commemorate 10 years of providing sport marketing training for athletes.

The center in Tilburg was, after Amsterdam, the second Johan Cruyff Academy that was launched. The expansion was desired by Johan Cruyff, who wanted to give professional training to as many athletes as possible. “I think more athletes should lead the sports sector, because they have very valuable sport experiences and a great passion for sport. With the right training, they are the best prepared to lead the sports industry,” Johan said.

Lars Hagen, long-term manager of Johan Cruyff Academy Tilburg, still remembers the early years. “The arrival of Johan Cruyff Academy Tilburg was a boost for Fontys. Because of their passion, elite athletes are a special group to train and it is inspiring to follow their (sport) achievements. Johan Cruyff Academy is also a continual promoter of educational innovations, in order to be able to meet both high-level sports obligations and educational obligations in the most optimal way possible.”

Tilburg is a city that gives a lot of attention to talent development, and the sports sector is no exception,” says Lars. “When we started in 2009, our SPECO sport marketing degree, aimed at young people in general and also part of Fontys, had been a recognized brand in the Netherlands for 20 years. Given the large number of top-level athletes in the southern Netherlands, the arrival of Johan Cruyff Academy Tilburg was, in reality, a logical consequence.”

First generation of alumni in 2013

In 2013, the first group of students graduated; four big names who obtained their diploma in four years, combining it with their high-level sport. They were Diederick Hagemeijer (ice hockey), Eefje Frissen (athletics), Romana Janshen (tennis) and Bram Poell (football). In 2019, the four ended their sports careers, but thanks to their diploma they are very optimistic about their future.

Johan Cruyff Academy Tilburg celebrates 10 years

Diederick Hagemeijer.

Eefje Frissen even graduated cum laude: “When I heard Johan Cruyff on the opening day, I realized that this was exactly what I needed to do my best both in my sport and in my studies. I had the commitment of my teachers, watching over my progress in both my sport and my studies, and it was a first step for my future working life.”

Johan Cruyff Academy Tilburg celebrates 10 years

Eefje Frissen.

“If I had to highlight something I learned there it is that having a good group of colleagues around you is very important to achieve your goals,” says Romana Janshen. “Not only in the field of sport, but also at the level of studies and at the social level. In addition, believing in yourself is a very important key to success, in all facets of your life. It’s good not to focus exclusively on your sports career, but expand your horizon and it gave me confidence to think that I was investing in my future after tennis.”

Johan Cruyff Academy Tilburg celebrates 10 years

Romana Janshen.

For Bram Poell, a former football player in that first-year group, “Johan Cruyff Academy Tilburg made it very easy for me and it was a simple choice because it was the only place that gave me the opportunity to combine sport with a university education. As one of the few football players in my region, I now have a university degree and also a master’s degree. That gives you a lot of security. Without that opportunity, I would never have come here.”

Johan Cruyff Academy Tilburg celebrates 10 years

Bram Poell.

“Thanks to their mentality as athletes, these four and all those who came later have shown that high-level sport can be combined with a full-time university education,” concludes Marc van der Linden, current manager of Johan Cruyff Academy Tilburg. “They have developed their talent in all areas and, as a result, they have the skills that many companies are looking for. Many go to work in the sports industry, as Johan Cruyff wanted, and others opt for a job in another sector. And that is great too! We are proud to follow their trajectory and it is very gratifying to see that the vision that Johan Cruyff Academy gave them has worked very well for them in life.”

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