Dutch Soccer Secrets
Dutch Soccer Secrets
4 The KNVB Philosophy
"Everything that goes into too much detail is often so boring. But for those who need to know the details, it is a necessary evil, for nothing exists for its own sake."
(Johan Cruyff, March 1985; quoted in Barend & van Dorp, 2006, p 59)
The Dutch soccer youth development program is implemented in a country of around 16 million inhabitants. The KNVB is, as the professional organization and therefore as the supervisory body, responsible for the content and structure of the organization and development of youth soccer. In the past few decades, it has evolved from a national sports association with exclusive responsibility in the area of league and coaches' training to an association that also formulates and implements visions. The KNVB has a great reputation and is admired worldwide for its consistent, transparent and very effective youth development philosophy. The "total vision of youth soccer" (KNVB, 2001, p 1), which was presented to the public by the KNVB in 2001 as the "Masterplan of Youth Soccer" (ibid), describes the path of Dutch talent development. This master plan is still valid and is assessed below by the current head coach at the KNVB, Nico Romeijn, in an interview with the authors on Feb. 4, 2010:
"However, it is totally serious and of vital importance to have a plan of how we envisage and therefore deal with talent development. The focus is on the players, who must have the best coaching, whatever their level. But this is only possible with a plan and with good coaches who don't just want to coach for coaching's sake but want to use their coaching methods to develop the players."
4.1 The Dutch Youth Soccer Master Plan
The master plan gives information about the basic key points in the development of high performance and less serious Dutch youth soccer players. In the KNVB, currently around half a million youth soccer players are actively involved in training and playing. The openness of this coaching process makes it possible in particular for the less "serious" young players to switch to the high performance training branch if they show enough talent and willpower.
The master plan documents in two steps how the high performance youth player and the youth casual player can be coached in soccer. In basic coaching , all youth players are familiarized with activities that are focused on pedagogical guidance. These activities also include highly qualified coaching. This first step in the coaching of youth players in the Netherlands is oriented toward physical improvement of the players based on education and learning. Both steps, pedagogical guidance and highly qualified coaching, are inseparably linked in the Netherlands and can be represented as follows:
- Maintenance and structure of children's teams.
- The reduction of downtime in the youth area.
- Special training courses for youth coaches working with young children.
- More attention on indoor soccer in the youth area.
- More attention for talented youngsters in handicapped soccer.
- Soccer activities for kids from socially and economically deprived backgrounds.
- The development of a concept of pedagogical mentoring in the youth area
- The appointment of children's regional coaches by the association (see KNVB, 2001, p 2).
The master plan also includes such activities as the KNVB initiative "Grenzloos Voetbal" (soccer without limits) (Stoop, 1999, p 57), in which young people from social and financially disadvantaged backgrounds can participate in the Dutch sporting culture.
The master plan therefore offers club coaches general guidelines that are intended to contribute to the expansion of the methodolog