Pieter Jan Nieuwenhuyzen, alumnus Master in Sport Management at Johan Cruyff Institute, about cultural diversity, his kickboxing career, taxi company and future plans.
Pieter Jan Nieuwenhuyzen is a professional kickboxer and is ranked in the top 10 of the world. Currently, he is actively striving to become world champion, and he also has his own taxi company, Nieuwenhuyzen Luxury Taxi Service. The passionate fighter has a Brazilian mother and a Dutch father and grew up in São Paulo, lived in New York for a while and is now settled in Amsterdam. This month of June, Pieter Jan received his diploma for the Master in Sport Management. He stood out as a special student because of his unique attitude to life and his life vision. Pieter Jan could contribute a lot to his class mates, thanks to his life as an elite athlete, his career as a business professional and his cultural background. We spoke to him about his attitude to life and his future plans.
You studied in New York with a scholarship to play basketball. Does your interest in sport management come from there?
No, my interest in sport management actually comes from earlier. I come from a competitive background and family, and my mother and brother are both very driven. In the past, they were tennis players. I learned a lot of my values through sport. And, because of the life lessons, the discipline and the camaraderie, I realized that sport is always going to be in my blood and in my life. Because of that, I’ve always tried to involve sport in my lifestyle in one way or another.
Could you tell us about your sports career and how you realized that you wanted to continue studying something related to sport?
I am actively involved in combat sports now. I am aware of the fact that this is not for the rest of my life, so I needed to take the next step. Also, the next step is about building a business and the networks, the connections that you make, the good people. Johan Cruyff Institute sport management program is one of the best out there. Because of that, I decided this is the next opportunity. It’s a blessing from the skies.
Where would you like your sports career to take you?
I believe that you should treat people the way you want to be treated. That is the selfless part, but there is also a selfish part, because I want to be treated like a king, so I have to treat people like kings or queens too. It’s like karma energy flowing back and forth. And because of that, ever since I was little, I’ve always wanted to create a foundation to give back, like the one that Shakira started in Colombia called Pies Descalzos. How can I give back and start a foundation to give something back to these kids? Johan Cruyff Institute has lots of students and alumni who are involved in all these amazing foundations. And now I am starting to have these ideas and visions to bring that into reality. Actually, my last name is ‘Nieuwenhuyzen’ which means ‘new houses’, and that’s why I want to build these, to create new opportunities and new lives for these kids. Everything is slowly coming together.
What have you learned from the sports and business worlds that you can apply in your project?
I have learned that you can’t do things by yourself and that you have to seek help from other people, because everything is connected. You need help from other people and you need to realize that we are all a team. Just like in sports, you have a team, even if it is a one-man sport like fighting or kickboxing, you have a team behind you who supports you and helps you get to where you want to go. And the same goes for running your own business, having your own taxi company or being in a sport or in a business, you have to be great and nurture your relationships and your business and your team in order to let it grow and flourish. Or else, it will die and not get to where you want it to get to. I am slowly realizing and learning to nurture these relationships and nurture these seeds, like watering the flowers.
How do you value the cultural diversity and different types of friends that you have made at Johan Cruyff Institute?
I think that is crucial and I believe that’s everything. I think you can learn from everybody and from everybody’s cultures; From different ways of thinking, of being brought up, of seeing the world. I don’t like seeing the world like horses that have blinkers on their eyes, because I can tell you in this room what I am seeing, but there is a 360-degree frame. All these other beautiful, great minds showing me other insights and ideas and other ways about why the world works the way it works and where they are coming from. For me that is priceless. And Johan Cruyff Institute offers you that opportunity to reach out, and connect with all these different great minds that see things in a different way.
What would you highlight about the program?
The Barcelona trip was amazing because I got closer to my colleagues. We were having a great time and we did the work, but it didn’t feel like work. It felt like we were together. We were all together in one plan, one mission, one statement. I believe that when you do things that are fun you learn things more quickly, easily and effectively. Another highlight was the class we had at the professional football club Vitesse, where I got to see the club inside out. About two years ago, I was in Barcelona visiting the Camp Nou for the first time. It was a different experience when I came as a tourist, because I didn’t get to have the same personal experience of being able to go inside to see the management and how it works. It’s like my example of the horses. I was the horse with the blinkers and now the blinkers are off. The Johan Cruyff institute has allowed me to see the world how it really is.
Credits header photo: BobiPix Sport Fotografie
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