Netherlands: Volendam, fishing village finds Eredivisie

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The Wollendam club is back in the Dutch elite, thanks to a 2-1 success at Den Bosch’s lawn on Friday evening. Following their relegation from the Eredivisie in 2009, the club experienced several disappointments before joining a new project under the auspices of Johan Cruyff’s disciples three years earlier, all of whom had proved themselves at the center of Ajax training. .

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While strolling along the Volendam Seawall, you will have the opportunity to eat the best fish and chips of your life, until you indulge in a smoked eel sandwich. Famous for its fishing, which concentrates a good part of its economic activity, the port of Volendam sees thousands of tourists every year strolling in search of authenticity. This beautiful beach has you juggling between traditional shops (where you can buy famous clogs and local costumes) and tasting places, cafes, restaurants, fishmongers and cheese shops. A quiet and pleasant place that hides the passion for football.

This Friday evening, dozens of people stood in front of the “Bar de Molen” to celebrate the return of his club FC Volendam to the elite. After a successful 2021/2022 season, the local club formalized their rise after a victory at ‘s-Hertogenbosch. She arrived a little later than imagined, mistaking a six-game series without a win between early March and early April, thawing her comfortable lead in the standings and losing her first place to FC Emmen. , Whatever the wait, it was intoxicating.

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Hundreds of people also crowded into the parking lot of Cross Stadion, shortly after midnight, to wait for the players to return to the city. In a cloud of smoke, the new heroes were greeted warmly by supporters with renewed pride, thanks to a project launched in 2019.

On its head, Jasper van Leeuwen for sports management, Ruben Jongkind, first as a consultant then as director of the academy and Wim Jonck as coach of the team. These three men have a CV as long as your arm and have become masters in the development of young footballers, especially thanks to their experience at Ajax, another master around Johan Cruyff.

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The basic principles of Johann Cruyff applied

Heavily marked by Johan Cruyff, the three men attended a pivotal moment for Ajax in the early 2010s. , to take them to courts to stagger them and to be able to apply their methodology, were condensed into the famous “Cruff Plan”. , This project was responsible for getting the Academy back on the right track. The De Ligt, van de Beek, Mazrouei generation was the first generation to benefit from the changes within the Amsterdam training center “De Tokomst”. These are the same people who went to rival Feyenoord to find Jurion Timber and Noah Lang, convincing them that their future would be brighter in Amsterdam through very specific personal development plans.

After deep disagreements, Jonk (the then Academy Director), Jongkind and van Leeuwen left Ajax in 2015 to form their own organization. Presenting his development principles inherited from Johann Cruyff, he took advantage of a few years to preach the good word to clubs and associations. And then the unexpected happened. Impossible to refuse a foot call. Volendam. Birthplace of Vim leech. Volendam, the location of the same leech’s first football season, before showing his talents at Ajax, Inter, PSV and Sheffield. Deep reflection, a hint of emotion, a real opportunity and there are three people on board here in this charming fishing town of 22,000 residents, often presented as a village, not a city.

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The project initially spans over three years: laying solid foundations, revolutionizing the way of thinking, developing training, building a strong partnership with the main amateur club in the city, reversing recruitment and establishing a retail culture dear to Cruyff. . a huge task. The methodology was always ready, all that remained was to set it up. The culture of results in youth teams was quickly dismantled. According to these disciples of Cruyff, the result paralyzes players and coaches. The first forgets the joy of playing and becomes obsessed with an ultimate obligation more than the path to achieving it, and the second seeks to win to keep his place. By making the sport, the penultimate instrument and risk-taking at the heart of youth teams, Volendam has chosen to focus on individual development – ​​the essential link to the Cruyff plan – over the dynamics of results. Even with some success, “the expected results will be visible in five to ten years”, Reuben Jongkind recalls.

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For his part, Wim Jonk injected his idea of ​​play into his team: technique, individual and collective intelligence in all lines, ground play, the ability to press and recover the ball quickly, players on the move, and the ability to win. Desire to balance power through the qualities of your group. Obviously, a proactive team is much more than a reactive one. Knowledge of your environment is also a plus. To persuade people to go to the stadium, Wim Jonck, who knows these lands all too well, nevertheless reminds us that you need a certain quality of football. The aesthetics positioned on the ground therefore plays a part in attracting people who are not used to wearing their pants to the stands of Cross Stadium.

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Arriving at the end of the 2018–2019 season for the previous matches, the Batavian coach was able to see rapid progress from the next season, stalled due to covid and “eliminated” in third place, usually using a dam to climb. Option. The club defeated Amsterdam club reserve Jong Ajax 4–0. A symbol for these former employees of the Amsterdam club and for a certain Belgian midfielder, Franco Antonucci, the author of a double that evening and passed by “De Tocomast”.

The following season is more complicated, with the club losing several key elements at the beginning or in the middle of the season (Fadiga, Small, Doodman, Vlak) and finishing in sixth place. He was knocked out in the first round of the climb against Breda and was lacking the experience to aim for a return to the top flight. Therefore, in the summer of 2021, focusing on the development of young people (Dean James, Josh Flint, Denso Cassius, Ibrahim El Qadiri, Derry Murkin), the club decided to bring in three experienced players: Damon Mirani, Central defenders Daryl van Mieghem (right winger) and Robert Muhren (centre forward). He should supervise the club’s bottle class. The first, formed in Volendam in mid-2010, is a supporter of the club before being a player. He has been made captain. The other two make the head start and advance the club’s attack.

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Inter let’s seduce ourselves

The work of Jonk, Jongkind and van Leeuwen at Ajax did not go unnoticed and, on the occasion of the Amsterdam club’s spectacular 2018/2019 season, completed in the Champions League semi-final with a beautiful European epic. Tottenham. Several major players came from Johan Cruyff’s Velvet Revolution in early 2010. His ability to train young players, develop them and allow them to change their positions is well known by all connoisseurs.

Wim Jonk, who passed out from Inter as a player, left a beautiful image in Milan. A great specialist in heavy shots at the entrance to the field, he notably won the UEFA Cup 94, scoring in the final comeback against Salzburg, having already scored a goal in the semi-final against Cagliari and a double in the quarter against Dortmund. . The Interior Club welcomed Wim Jonck and Jasper van Leeuwen to the training center Pinetina a few months ago. An informal partnership was born out of this meeting, more oral than written. In the 2020/2021 season, Nerazuri sent his young Primavera striker Samuel Mulatieri on loan to Volendam. He finished as the club’s top scorer with 18 goals in 30 matches.

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This season, Inter have sent two new players on loan: goalkeeper Filip Stankovic (Dejan’s son), who has gone undisputed in goals, and midfielder Gaetano Cristiano, who is the fourth-most in the team with 33 matches played in 36 days. Most commonly used player. Both young players progressed at a faster level than they were with Primavera. In Dutch D2, the fact of facing professional teams, and no longer U19, elevates the level of adversity. Furthermore, at Volendam, the youth development plan is sufficiently credible and anchored in the playing strategy that a youngster knows he will have the time to play, which is always uncertain in Serie B – the great Italian clubs’ youth. Another possibility for – where the experience can quickly come under the Stations of the Cross.

a football town

Located about twenty kilometers from Amsterdam, this fishing town is fond of football. It must be said that the successes of local players are not lacking: Wim Jonck, of course, but also the Muhren brothers, Gerry and Arnold, who played Ajax’s great hours in the 1970s, PSV Eindhoven’s current midfielder Joy Weermann or KJ Molenaar. , double champion with Ajax in the early 80s.

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Very attached to their land, the inhabitants of Volendam did not leave their city for anything in the world. Young local players also sometimes have some trouble getting off the field. The example of Joy Veerman (23) is a perfect representation of this attachment. The PSV midfielder chose to stay in the Netherlands after his good performances in Heerenveen rather than go abroad and is said to still be very close to his hometown of Wollendam. He was also in the stands of ‘s-Hertogenbosch’ on Friday evening to witness the rise of his training club in the Eredivisie.

On his side, Utrecht striker Henk Weermann (31), whose Dutch media have explained in recent days, may return to FC Volendam next season to form a pair of experienced attackers with Robert Muhren (32 years old). Huh. He also grew up in a fishing village and returned there last summer, when he contributed greatly to the promotion of Cambur-Leuwarden in the Eredivisie with his 38 goals in 37 days. This is what it says: prefers to stay in D2 to help his favorite club go to D1, not to take advantage of the very desired D1 he has fought for all season. Last example and not least, Damon Mirani, returned to Volendam last summer. He struggled to hide his feelings on ESPN NL Friday night when he spoke of a dream come true to bring his club to the Eredivisie, having been a kid in the stands supporting this team.

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Volendamers will have the opportunity to show this affection for their team at the Eredivisie next year, as the hardest part begins: to show that this development model is mature enough at Volendam to remain in the top flight for several seasons. Is. With new financial gains associated with this category change, Volendam can expect to accelerate its operations. But don’t count on Jönk, Jongkind and van Leeuwen to back down from their principles as adversity escalates, or, worse, to throw money and disproportionate recruits, as Johann Cruyff said: “I never filled a bag. Have seen it. Score a goal for money.”

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