The 25th anniversary of Cruyff Education, a tribute to the academic legacy of Johan Cruyff

May 24, 2024

The 25th anniversary of Cruyff Education, a tribute to the academic legacy of Johan Cruyff

On May 14, the 25th anniversary of Cruyff Education was celebrated at the Jaap Edenbaan in Amsterdam, attended by the Dutch academic network and Jordi Cruyff

By virtue of Johan Cruyff’s initiative in 1999 to start with Cruyff Education, elite athletes have been able to study alongside their sports careers. Thousands of them have had the opportunity to become well prepared for a productive future, maximizing their potential in both sports and academic fields. The 25th anniversary of Cruyff Education, also known as the Academic Legacy of Johan Cruyff, was celebrated on May 14th at the Jaap Edenbaan in Amsterdam. The event was attended by approximately 200 current and former teachers, managers, staff members, and partners from the Dutch academic network, as well as many alumni.

Milica Zolak, team manager of Johan Cruyff Academy Amsterdam where it all started, said: “It is a wonderful milestone that we have successfully guided top athletes for 25 years, enabling them to obtain a bachelor’s degree. We are proud of our alumni, who, with their sporting spirit, now make professional contributions to both the sports industry and other fields. As a team, it is incredibly fulfilling to continue Johan’s beautiful legacy, embracing all his wisdom and vision.”

“Everything that has emerged from my father’s legacy, including Cruyff Education, has been connected to his own life and experiences” – Jordi Cruyff

The event included a festive section featuring sporting clinics and activities, a barbecue, and a DJ, spread out across the grounds of the Jaap Edenbaan. It commenced with a plenary session at the ice rink itself, hosted by Viggo Waas and Peter Heerschop. “The era when athletes would open a cigar shop after their careers were over ended forever with the arrival of Johan Cruyff Academy in 1999, and you have all contributed to that,” said Viggo. He and Peter then invited Jordi Cruyff onto the stage and the three of them reminisced about Johan Cruyff. “Everything that has emerged from my father’s legacy, including Cruyff Education, has been connected to his own life and experiences,” explained Jordi. “He never had the opportunity to pursue an academic career and could be quite strict with us about school, emphasizing discipline and respect for teachers. Most importantly, he believed it was crucial for my sisters and me to have a ‘plan B’. He was determined about that and always told us to do our best at school.”

After Mariel Koerhuis, general manager of Johan Cruyff Institute, extended her thanks to everyone in the audience, Carole Thate (former Dutch national team hockey player and manager at Cruyff Management and World of Johan Cruyff), Robert van Overdijk (CEO of the Zandvoort Circuit and the Dutch Grand Prix), and Mustafa Jebari (former wheelchair basketball player and currently working at sports event management department ‘Sportstimulering’ of the city of Amsterdam), were invited up onto the stage to join in the discussion on ‘Leadership and Legacy’ in sport. “When the idea arose to revive the Zandvoort Circuit, we were often told—just like Johan in 1999—that it won’t work, said Robert van Overdijk. “But if you bring together a group of people with the same mindset and passion, it turns out that much more is possible than meets the eye. I think we have built something beautiful with the circuit and are at a completely different point than six years ago.”

“I was fully committed to my sport and when my sports career was coming to an end I didn’t have a plan B yet. I then combined Johan Cruyff Academy with the competition in Italy, and that worked mainly thanks to my fellow students, who were all top athletes as well, and because I could do a lot online” – Mustafa Jebari

After playing the semi-finals in front of an audience of 20,000 enthusiastic fans during the Paralympic Games in Barcelona—where he also met Johan for the first time—Mustafa Jebari wanted to get the most out of his sports career. He played in the French, Italian and German leagues. “I was fully committed to my sport and when my sports career was coming to an end I didn’t have a ‘plan B’ yet,” said the the former top athlete. “I visited the Johan Cruyff Foundation and they pointed me to Johan Cruyff Academy, where I then combined academic training with playing in the league in Italy. And that was successful, thanks to my fellow students, who were all top athletes, and because I could do a lot online.”

Today, Cruyff Education consists of Johan Cruyff Academy (higher professional bachelor’s degree courses), Johan Cruyff College (vocational education) and Johan Cruyff Institute, which offers study programs worldwide at the executive level. More than 10,000 students have been trained through Cruyff Education, via face-to-face, online and blended learning.

During the event at the Jaap Edenbaan, the 20th anniversary of Johan Cruyff College Amsterdam was also celebrated. Established in 2004 as part of the ROC of Amsterdam, it educates athletes and talents according to the same concept, but at a vocational education level. Peter Jansen, chairman of the steering group of Johan Cruyff College Netherlands, said: “It is remarkable that Johan Cruyff’s idea from 25 years ago remains relevant across all educational levels today. At Johan Cruyff College, we are always five years behind, but we are also on our way to 25 years. I hope that Cruyff Education and our academic network can further enhance our training offerings over the next 25 years to continue our journey. Here’s to 50 years of Cruyff Education!”

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