Johan Cruyff was present as the latest Cruyff Court opened in Como, Italy, his foundation working in partnership with the late Stefano Borgonovo's to honour the former AC Milan player.
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The Cruyff Foundation has opened the second of six Cruyff Courts to be funded from the 2013 UEFA Monaco Charity award in Como, Italy. The facility was named in honour of the late Stefano Borgonovo, whose own foundation – which works on raising awareness and developing treatment for ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) – received the cheque from UEFA President Michel Platini last year.
It was the first Cruyff Court to be inaugurated in Italy, with the twin aims of facilitating football for the community and promoting the work of both foundations. Former AC Milan and ACF Fiorentina player Borgonovo had been a huge admirer of Johan Cruyff, dedicating a chapter to the Dutchman in his autobiography while his old school still play in orange in homage to the great Netherlands teams of the 1970s. He died after an eight-year battle with ALS in June 2013.
"When we started my Foundation, I said 'alone you cannot do anything, together you can do everything'," said Cruyff, on the teamwork between the two foundations. "I am from a background of team performance because I am not an individual player. We have always been a team and as a team you win, you lose and you learn. And that is probably the most important thing for children: if you play together you can learn a lot from the one next to you. This is huge because it is a big name behind it. Borgonovo is a big name, it is a name that creates a lot of emotion, so this is a good way to inform people what happened and at the same time give children the opportunity to enjoy themselves."
A Cruyff Court is a modern interpretation of the traditional playing field which can be found in many districts and neighbourhoods, providing children with a safe environment in which to play sport outdoors at around 190 sites in 20 different countries. It is intended as a meeting place with the social function of bringing children together through on-court activities. FC Barcelona's Xavi Hernández joined Cruyff to open the first such feature to be funded by the Monaco Charity Award, in the Spanish town of Terrassa in October.
"It will certainly have a positive impact," said Stefano's wife Chantal Borgonovo at the opening. "We know that because this pitch has been opened in a borough of the city, and the schools in that borough have already asked to use it for their kids for PE lessons. So it is a project which has already been taken on very well by the community here."
See more of the opening of the Cruyff Court in the video above.