Alumni and representatives of institutions, sports entities, academic partners and official organizations gather at the Antigua Fàbrica Damm to reconnect, share and reaffirm their commitment to the academic legacy of Johan Cruyff
The best way to celebrate a legacy is with all those people from institutions, sports entities, academic partners and official organizations that continue to keep it alive. All of them, along with an important representation of alumni from all academic programs in Barcelona, answered Johan Cruyff Institute’s call to commemorate the academic legacy of Johan Cruyff at a private meeting held at the Antigua Fàbrica Damm.
What began as a ‘one for all’ based on Johan’s idea of offering athletes the possibility to pursue a dual career combining their sport with studies has become, over the years, an ‘all for one’. Because every student who decides to put their academic training in sport management in the hands of Johan Cruyff Institute can count on the support, experience and knowledge not only of the professors and staff of this institution, but also of the entire network of sports organizations, institutions, academic partners and former students who continue to contribute to the academic legacy of Johan Cruyff.
In 2024, Johan Cruyff Institute will celebrate its 25th anniversary. Today, it is a business school dedicated to professional training in sport management, sport marketing and sponsorship, football business and coaching, through which almost 10,000 students from all over the world have passed—athletes, former athletes and professionals from various business fields who, based on our training, want to work in the sports industry with the aim of making it better for all of us.
“All this work has been recognized,” explained Mariël Koerhuis, general manager of Johan Cruyff Institute. “Like the fact that our Master in Sport Management Online is considered the second best program in the world by the prestigious SportBusiness International Magazine, and that every year we welcome 600 new students to our classrooms. It’s something we are very proud of. But, really, the great recognition is to find former students working in the different areas of the sports industry, occupying leadership positions, sharing everything they have acquired in their training with us and, at the same time, collaborating with Johan Cruyff Institute in the training of new generations, offering internships, participating in webinars and lectures, and contributing, at the end of the day, to extend what is our mission. I encourage you to continue doing this together, creating new professionals who not only know how to manage the sports industry, but who do so with values and a social commitment.”
“The great recognition is to find former students working in the different areas of the sports industry, occupying leadership positions, sharing everything they have acquired in their training with us and collaborating with Johan Cruyff Institute in the training of new generations” – Mariël Koerhuis (Johan Cruyff Institute)
José Coronado, a graduate of the Master in Sport Marketing and Management, in Barcelona, and Silvana Mestres, a member of the first class of students of the same program in 2005, are great examples of this and both wanted to share their memories of their time at Johan Cruyff Institute with all those attending the event. José Coronado is the director of the international wheelchair tournament TRAM Barcelona Open, an event he created as a result of his final project on the master’s degree, which he was able to do thanks to a scholarship from the Cruyff Foundation. In only six editions, the TRAM Barcelona Open has not only established itself as one of the leading international events in wheelchair tennis, but this year it has managed to reach the highest international category (ITF1), the first tournament of this level in Spain and of which there are only 10 in the world.
“The Cruyff Foundation gave me the opportunity to apply for one of the scholarships for disabled athletes and Johan Cruyff Institute opened up a world for me. I had the feeling of being like a sponge, I was acquiring more and more knowledge and it changed my life, entering the world of management and organization. I have very good memories,” said José. What started out as “an idea on a piece of paper developed into my master’s degree final project and many people pushed me to think that I could make it a reality. I had the help of the Cruyff Foundation, Johan Cruyff Institute, the Barcelona City Council, sponsors and collaborators.” José Coronado wanted to highlight that “the first good news is to have reached the highest international category and another equally important one is to have the Cruyff Foundation as the organizer of this year’s tournament, which has incorporated it as one of its events to spread its values. It is a nice way to close the circle—what started as a scholarship to study at Johan Cruyff Institute and a personal dream has become a reality.”
“The Cruyff Foundation gave me the opportunity to apply for one of the scholarships for disabled athletes and Johan Cruyff Institute opened up a world for me; it changed my life” – José Coronado (TRAM Barcelona Open)
José recalled that “it is very important that children with disabilities have real role models. They have the right to have hopes and dreams. Many dream of being like Bojan Krkic, who we have here, and scoring a goal at the Camp Nou, but a child with a disability will not be able to do that. But why can’t he or she participate in the Paralympic Games in tennis, skiing or any other sport? I am very pleased to be able to lead this project in the world of tennis.”
Silvana Mestres is CEO and co-founder of Play & Train, a non-profit social entity declared to be of public utility, which since 2008 has been promoting access to sport for people regardless of their ability, gender and age, as a tool for social inclusion. “My time at Johan Cruyff Institute was very important because it was what gave me the impetus to create Play & Train and it is still part of my DNA because I continue to collaborate with you guys through talks and webinars,” explained Silvana.
For her, Johan Cruyff was key to her career. “Although many don’t know it, Johan was a great skier and he was key to making Play & Train known. I founded the NGO with my partner Mariona Masdemont, contributing 600 euros each. This winter, 3,600 people with disabilities have skied with us at our center in La Molina. And if we calculate that each disabled person needs 3.5 people to accompany them, you can imagine the niche market behind. Johan did me the favor of coming to La Molina to watch a snowboard world championship won by Bibian Mentel and I will never forget that.” If snowboarding is today a Paralympic sport, it is a lot thanks to the Dutch champion, Bibian Mertel, who sadly passed away from brain cancer at the age of 48, and people like Silvana Mestres who worked and fought for it.
“My time at Johan Cruyff Institute was very important because it was what gave me the impetus to create Play & Train and it is still part of my DNA” – Silvana Mestres (Play & Train)
Silvana explained that “for work reasons, I had already done another master’s degree, but I must say that the one where I learned the most was at Johan Cruyff Institute. It was not just hours and hours of study, but hours of sharing with colleagues in search of applicable solutions, an exchange that creates the basis for future projects and opens your eyes. For me, the work you do was important, and continues to be important.”
David Escudé, councilor for sport at Barcelona City Council, attended the meeting accompanied by representatives from Barcelona Activa and BCN Sports Hub. “It is a pleasure to be here because we are very much in line with what you are doing at Johan Cruyff Institute and what we are putting into practice. Normally, sports policy focuses exclusively on physical activity and sports for elite athletes. It is a very important part of what public administrations can do, but it is not the only one. Promoting sport is vital, organizing major sporting events is also very important, but sport should be something more, we must emphasize its role as a promoter, catalyst and economic engine of a city.”
In this sense, Escudé pointed out that “the figures do not lie: the sports industry represents 3% of the city’s GDP, more than 50,000 people are working in this sector. More and more companies and startups are considering Barcelona as a sports city in which to hold a major event. We must continue working so that companies continue to come here and generate stable jobs for the present and future of the city.”
“From the Barcelona City Council, we created this dream of launching BCN Sports Hub, and I publicly thank Johan Cruyff Institute for believing in it and for, from the first moment, contributing its grain of sand in its constitution” – David Escudé (Barcelona City Council)
David Escudé highlighted the contribution of Johan Cruyff Institute in the creation of synergies within the city’s sports industry. “From the Barcelona City Council, we created this dream of launching BCN Sports Hub, and I publicly thank Johan Cruyff Institute for believing in it and for, from the first moment, contributing its grain of sand in the constitution of what we will see in the future: Barcelona as the capital of this hub that we are building together.” Another dream, that of José Coronado, also reached the desk of the councilor for sport. “José came to see me to present his master’s final project, a very well thought out wheelchair tennis tournament that is now one of the best tournaments in the world in its specialty. You should feel proud of yourselves as an academic entity, as we as a city are also proud, to have people like José Coronado who, thanks to your academic training, can present projects that today are model projects, not only in the city of Barcelona, but also in the world,” said David Escudé.
The terrace of the Antigua Fàbrica Damm was, as on so many other occasions, the ideal setting to bring to a close a meeting that served to bring together again different generations of students who, regardless of the time that has passed since they left the institution, know that Johan Cruyff Institute will always be their home. Who knows if new proposals will emerge from this initiative. There was certainly plenty of talent and opportunities.