Johan Cruyff Academy Amsterdam inaugurates its Ambassadors mural

Johan Cruyff Academy Amsterdam has unveiled a mural dedicated to its Ambassadors, as a step to add its former students as a source of inspiration for future generations and explore new opportunities for mutual benefit

On March 29, a photographic mural was inaugurated at the Johan Cruyff Academy Amsterdam, with portraits of its founder, Johan Cruyff, and several former students, who from now on will officially be ambassadors of Johan Cruyff Academy. With them, the Johan Cruyff Academy Amsterdam wants to explore how education in sport marketing and the sports industry, where our ambassadors develop their professional career, can further reinforce each other.

The mural was inaugurated in the presence of the ambassadors Dirk Tuip and Jiske Griffioen and other representatives of the Cruyff academic network. On the mural as ambassadors, but not present at the inauguration, were Ziggy Tabacznik, and ‘founding father’ and former teacher of the Johan Cruyff Academy Amsterdam, Wim de Wit.

Johan Cruyff Academy Amsterdam inaugurates its Ambassadors mural

The inauguration act by Dick Scholten from Johan Cruyff Institute HQ, and student-athlete Myrthe Schoot, who led the ambassador project.

We talked to Milica Zolak, (cover photo second to the left), team manager of the Johan Cruyff Academy Amsterdam, to find out more about this initiative.

What does the collaboration with these ambassadors consist of?

The main task of Johan Cruyff Academy is to educate student-athletes to become professionals in the field of sport marketing, a study path of commercial economics. We are always looking for ways to involve alumni in our study program to strengthen it with their practical experience and expertise through, for example, case studies or as guest speakers. It’s so great to see that many alumni are willing to do this, and to see how proud they are of the fact that they had the opportunity to study at Johan Cruyff Academy when they were elite athletes. And the knife cuts both ways, because the sports industry also benefits from the program conversely, for example through research or internship projects.

We therefore thought it would be a good idea to ask a small but diverse group of closely involved alumni if they would like to become ambassadors of Johan Cruyff Academy, to further explore the synergy between the professional field and study program and see where we can open up new opportunities and reinforce mutual benefits.

Johan Cruyff Academy Amsterdam inaugurates its Ambassadors mural

Dominique van der Pauw, teacher of Johan Cruyff Academy Academy, at the event announcing video-messages of the ambassadors.

We are very proud that these great alumni are now official ambassadors of the Johan Cruyff Academy Amsterdam. We celebrate this through this mural of alumni ambassadors, which highlights the importance of the relationship between the professional field and education.

What makes someone a good ambassador of Johan Cruyff Academy?

Johan Cruyff Academy Amsterdam inaugurates its Ambassadors muralLet’s start by saying that all alumni are ambassadors for the program, because they have shown that it is possible to combine top sport and a full-time bachelor’s degree study program! During their study time they all experienced how important it is that Johan Cruyff Academy exists, so that you can also study in addition to your top sport, in a supported environment where fellow students and teachers understand what you need to excel in both sport and study. All alumni are not only ambassadors of this cause, but also role models for new generations of students.

But nevertheless, we thought it was important to ask some of them to become ambassadors, for the reasons mentioned above. They are alumni with whom we already had a strong bond and who are exponents of Johan Cruyff’s mission, because as he said, “No one can serve the interests of sport better than someone with the heart of an athlete”.

How did the idea to make this mural come about?

The idea of the mural arose in 2019, the anniversary year when we celebrated 20 years of the Johan Cruyff Academy Amsterdam. The team delved into the past and came back with many fond memories of former students. Most student-athletes are young when they start studying, and at that time they are 100% focused on sport. This sometimes changes in the four years that they study at Johan Cruyff Academy, but more importantly, the training challenges them to think about a career after—or alongside— their sport. As a result, every student and alumnus have their own special story about how they want to contribute to society, as an athlete and as a marketing professional. Stories that inspire us, and that can also inspire others, such as future students.

In addition, we noticed a great willingness among many alumni to give something back to the program. And last but certainly not least, they are perfect exponents of the legacy of Johan Cruyff. By asking them to become ambassadors and making that visible through the mural, we ensure that we make this legacy more visible and stronger.

How do you see the cooperation with ambassadors in the future?

We celebrated the kick-off with a small group of ambassadors, and in the coming months we hope to be able to add a number of new alumni, who are willing to take on the role of ambassador. We also want to pay attention to diversity. For example, we would like to have another female ambassador.

Hundreds of student-athletes have already graduated from Johan Cruyff Academy, who currently occupy all kinds of positions in society. I think that with this ‘Cruyff network’ we offer an interesting platform for every student and alumnus, which everyone can benefit from. We would therefore like to take this opportunity to ask all alumni to keep in touch. It is a win-win if we further strengthen the collaboration between the professional field and education in all kinds of ways!

Johan Cruyff Academy Amsterdam inaugurates its Ambassadors mural

Ambassador Dirk Tuip.

Ambassadors speaking out

According to former handball player Dirk Tuip, who founded Searchuser and H20, among others: “I find it great to see that Johan Cruyff’s philosophy is still reflected in my daily life. Helping other people and sharing gained knowledge and experience in sport and sport marketing, can be done in many ways. A small contribution, such as delivering a workshop or serving as an advisor, and thus helping other people, can grow into something beautiful. I am happy to propagate this philosophy as an ambassador!”

Johan Cruyff Academy Amsterdam inaugurates its Ambassadors mural

Ambassador Jiske Griffioen.

Paralympic tennis player Jiske Griffioen says she would like to pass on something to students: “The combination of sport and studies was doable for me, but due to my intensive sport career it took me much longer. I had a hard time finishing my thesis. I was away from home a lot, and during a tournament I didn’t want to be too involved. I was focused on my matches. What I especially learned from this was how to plan and organize my studies as well. It was okay to choose not to study or work for a while, during certain periods. If you plan and organize both well, you will have peace of mind!”

In the words of former judoka Ziggy Tabacznik, who founded the sport marketing agency 2Basics shortly after graduating, together with his sports buddy Rouben Houkes: “Johan Cruyff Academy was an important turning point in my life. My career took a new course in the world of marketing and, with the ambassadorship, I hope to share my acquired knowledge and experience with the educational Cruyff network.”


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