The UEFA award-winning Johan Cruyff Foundation has trained 16 coaches to work across Spain as the body continues its worldwide efforts on behalf of children and young people.
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The Johan Cruyff Foundation – which in August received the 2013 UEFA Monaco Charity Award of €1m – continues to help nurture the mental and physical well-being of children and young people, training community coaches to help youngsters savour the joy of the game.
The organisation, which bears the name of the Dutch footballing great, creates safe places for children to practise sport and organises events to stimulate play and education – in particular by building Cruyff Courts, which are small artificial pitches, around the world.
On Monday, the popular foundation achieved a notable landmark in Spain when it awarded certificates to the country's first Cruyff Foundation coaches. Sixteen people who work at the seven Cruyff Courts in Spain have completed studies to become a professional coach. As a coach, they learn to support a group of youngsters in running an event at a Cruyff Court.
The Cruyff Foundation has gained respect and recognition for its work with young people – especially disabled children – and related community projects. It was founded in 1997 out of a wish of Johan Cruyff to help children flourish through sport and exercise. The foundation ensures that sports and games contribute significantly to kids' health and personal development, and notably promotes the participation of disabled people in society.
There are more than 180 Cruyff Courts across Europe. Each week thousands of youngsters take part in organised activities on these courts, such as the Cruyff Courts' 6 v 6 football tournament and the Cruyff Foundation Community Programme. Worldwide, over 20,000 children have enjoyed Cruyff Courts' 6 v 6 events and almost 900 children are in the Community Programme.
"The Cruyff Court is by far the most important stage where youngsters can develop themselves," said Carole Thate, director of the Johan Cruyff Foundation. "To contribute to this development, the [foundation] created the Community Programme. Professionals learn to assist youngsters for this specific project.
"A coach from the Cruyff Foundation works with the intention of binding youngsters to their neighbourhood and/or Cruyff Court. Until now, the courses have taken place in the Netherlands, Malaysia, the Caribbean Netherlands [Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba] and Aruba.
"Today, in Spain, coaches can now also work within the Community Programme. To further expand the Community Programme in Europe, we will start a European course in Amsterdam by 2014. This way, more youngsters can develop and stay active in their neighbourhood and on the Cruyff Courts for a long period of time."
After successfully finishing their course and becoming a Cruyff Foundation coach, the coach is responsible for a maximum 12 youngsters from the ages of 14 to 21. Over a period of two months, the coach assists youngsters in arranging an event at a Cruyff Court. During the project, the coach oversees the steps that the group takes and stimulates the youngsters in their individual growth.
Fourteen Johan Cruyff rules – 14 being the shirt number Cruyff famously wore for AFC Ajax and the Netherlands – apply on all Cruyff Courts and are central to any activities. These rules focus on respect, playing together and integration, as well as on themes such as responsibility, development and creativity. After completing a project, the youngsters receive a certificate and can be deployed for future ventures in the neighbourhood.
The UEFA Monaco Charity Award brought acknowledgement for the work the foundation has been doing for a number of years and means the body can undertake further initiatives involving the Cruyff Courts. One extremely positive corollary is that by giving youngsters responsibility, their ambition and self-confidence grows outside the Cruyff Courts.
In addition, their bonds are strengthened with their neighbourhood and they stay involved with activities. What is more, they can even be trained to become a Cruyff Foundation coach, thus inspiring new generations. As from Monday, Spain is the latest country to benefit from such coaches – so it is heartening to know UEFA's latest Charity Award landed in good, caring hands.