by Pim van Nes
All the way from Spanish Barcelona, former baseball and famous soccer player Johan Cruijff follows the news from the Netherlands and provides main newspaper De Telegraaf with a weekly column.
This week his comment appeared on page 5 of Monday’s Telesport supplement. The headline is “Sporters and directors” and the introduction refers to the Netherlands Crown Prince Willem Alexander, who will be King of the Netherlands as from coming April 30, succeeding his mother Beatrix who has been Queen since 1980. Last week Her Majesty informed the people of the country in a sudden interruption of regular TV programs that she has decided to abdicate on this year’s National Day. Her son will be the first King of the Netherlands since 1890 as during 100 years only daughters were born in the respective heritable families, till 27 April 1967.
Johan Cruijff, once a talented baseball player with Ajax in Amsterdam, read the news that the crown prince concluded that he will step down as personal member of the International Olympic Committee effective April 30 and that he has informed IOC president Jacques Rogge accordingly. Cruijff then started to wonder who in the Netherlands would be the best candidate to take the vacant position in IOC and acknowledged the crown prince’s preference for Olympic gold medals swimmer Pieter van de Hoogenband. However, Cruijff would not be Cruijff without presenting his own opinion also in this domain and so he did in his Telegraaf column next to news articles about a national leage game by Ajax and about a new striker for Ajax: 21 years old Isaac Cuenca, yes indeed from Barcelona.
Cruijff, known in the Netherlands for his promotion of street boys to soccer players and also from top sport players to sport directors: “I am getting more and more impressed by the development within the Netherlands baseball federation. A small organisation, which despite of recession and loss of Olympic status manages in continuous growth. Mind you, a federation in which former professional player Robert Eenhoorn is making the differences. Obviously somebody who can estimate what is going wrong and then finds the solution. Consequently Netherlands baseball has been making progress step by step. First by winning the (IBAF, pvn) World title for amateurs and now for World Baseball Classic Eenhoorn has arranged to contract Hensley Meulens, one of the top coaches with World Series winner San Francisco Giants.”
Cruijff continued: “In the meantime their (WBC, pvn) roster consists of professional players by 75 percent and they got the green light to construct a new national baseball stadium in Hoofddorp, where soon even Major League games can be played. These are work results by a sport director, who knows by practical experience which decision is required at a given moment. A former player who made it to the top with help by adequate staff around him.” Cruijff then applied this example to recent cooperation between FC Barcelona and AFC Ajax, where their former top players Frank de Boer and Marc Overmars became manager and director. Cruijff‘s conclusion: “If you really want to change something in sport, it needs to originate from the sport itsself. Executed by people gifted with the intuition to sense where the problem is: that is basic. If it depends on directoral skills only, all will be in vain.”