Managers and executives of our Dutch academic network participate in an intense and enriching two-day meeting in Barcelona focused on the dual career of elite athletes and on strengthening the academic legacy of Johan Cruyff
November is marked every year in the diary of the managers of Johan Cruyff College and Johan Cruyff Academy in the Netherlands as the time to travel to Barcelona to attend their annual strategic meeting. This time, on the occasion of the contract renewal, the representatives were accompanied for the first time by the directors of the faculties of the universities of applied sciences linked to Johan Cruyff Academy, as well as the directors of the ROCs, the regional vocational training centers, which host a Johan Cruyff College.
Over the two days, the group of 21 executives worked intensively on strengthening the academic legacy of Johan Cruyff, with the aim of continuing to provide optimal support to elite athletes in their dual careers. This was the main reason why the first day of work was organized at the facilities of the CAR (high performance center) in Sant Cugat, near Barcelona. The group enjoyed a guided tour by Josep Escoda, the CAR’s international relations and innovation manager, who also gave them an overview of the history and mission of the center.
Two elite athletes, synchronized swimmer Paula Ramírez and taekwondoin Belén Morán, both studying at Johan Cruyff Institute, gave a talk about their experience with the dual career and the goals they set for themselves as professional athletes. Anna Benito, head of the Athlete Care Department, and Susana Regüela, from the Sports Career Support Unit, gave an interesting presentation on the dual career and how the CAR’s student-athletes face their personal and professional development challenges.
“I am taking away a lot of information that I can use in my day-to-day work and that we can use to better position Johan Cruyff Academy in our region” – Sander Frerichs (Fontys)
The training of elite athletes who can manage to combine their sporting careers with a study program brings significant value to educational institutions, but at the same time poses many challenges. Sander Frerichs, director of education at Fontys University of Applied Sciences, of which Johan Cruyff Academy Tilburg is a part, attended the annual meeting for the first time and said he had enjoyed two very inspiring and useful days. “I am taking away a lot of information that I can use in my day-to-day work and that we can use to better position Johan Cruyff Academy in our region,” he added.
On the second day, the group worked at Johan Cruyff Institute Barcelona, discussing the common goal of remaining a reference in specialized sports training in the Netherlands. Margo Koopman, director of the College for Education, Sports & Welfare of ROC van Twente, of which Johan Cruyff College Enschede is a part, commented that “the future of our collaboration with the international headquarters of Johan Cruyff Institute is not limited to maintaining our agreement, but the opportunity to voice our concerns is what allows us to grow and continue building together for the future.”
“The future of our collaboration with the international headquarters of Johan Cruyff Institute is not limited to maintaining our agreement, but the opportunity to voice our concerns is what allows us to grow and continue building together for the future” – Margo Koopman (ROC van Twente)
Milica Zolak, co-organizer of the program content on behalf of Johan Cruyff Academies, together with Peter Jansen, representative of Johan Cruyff Colleges, gave a very positive assessment of the group’s contributions. “We have experienced two intense days with the whole team. The visit to the CAR, with the presentation of their mentoring model, was very inspiring as we reflected on how we could further refine our dual career services for elite athletes in the Netherlands. In addition, we had the opportunity to go back to our origins, to the essence of Johan Cruyff’s mission, and consider how to train athletes for the sports sector. As he used to say, ‘those who have the heart of an athlete are the ones who can best lead the sports sector’. It is truly special to have a Cruyff academic network in the Dutch sports sector, where vocational education, degree programs and postgraduate education work collaboratively,” commented Milica.
“I think Johan would have been proud of what ‘his schools’ have achieved and that we can all appreciate and develop it further” – Peter Jansen (Johan Cruyff College)
“On a personal note, I would like to add that it is fantastic that after 25 years we are still working to further develop Johan Cruyff’s initiative,” said Peter. “I think Johan would have been proud of what ‘his schools’ have achieved and that we can all appreciate and develop it further.” The network looks after the dual careers of athletes from more than 60 different sports, welcomes more than 200 College students and more than 100 Academy students each year, and has a growing network of alumni who continue to make the business of sport their way of life once they have retired from their sport.
The two-day meeting culminated in a festive atmosphere, marked by the symbolic signing of the agreements in the presence of Susila Cruyff. These signatures symbolize the unity and lasting academic legacy of Johan Cruyff.