“Every disadvantage has its advantage”

Vera Koedooder is a former elite cyclist who is currently going through the transition from being a top athlete to a social career. She reveals the pros and cons during this period, because “every disadvantage has its advantage”

“I remember when I was ten years old and I stayed overnight at my older sister’s house. As we lay in bed, we philosophized about life and I still remember how I summarized our conversation: ‘You know, every disadvantage has its advantage‘. Back then, I didn’t know Johan Cruyff yet, but ten years later I had the privilege to speak to him when I was a student of the Johan Cruyff College. That this sentence can have such a profound meaning, I noticed at crucial moments during my life.”

“Last year was one of the toughest for me on both a sporting and personal level, but also one of the most enriching ones. After 22 years of races in athletics, skating and especially road and track cycling, and after winning 550 medals, my sport career came to an end. I won my last road race and ended my career on the track on 18 December 2016, with a silver medal at the Dutch points race, my 50th national medal.”

Vera Koedooder - Every disadvantage has its advantage - Johan Cruyff Institute

My current study program, the Master in Sport Management at Johan Cruyff Institute, is a perfect new way of giving substance to my life in a different way. I am therefore very grateful for Unilever’s scholarship! We are currently working on our final assignment. In a few weeks, along with two fellow students, I will present our business plan about a wheeler home to a panel of experts. This way I am able to keep contributing to the world of sport.”

After so many years of competition, it’s strange not to put your race number on your back anymore, but I’m proud and grateful for what I’ve been able to achieve and experience. In my sporting career, I have seen both sides of the medal, including winning two world youth championships, a European title and eight European medals, World Cup victories and participating in the 2012 Olympic Games, but also huge personal and physical setbacks. Psychologically speaking, in the end those moments are the most enriching ones. It is life experience that you take along up the road in your personal and professional life. I have quit elite sports, but there is now a new horizon with brand new challenges. Every disadvantage has its advantage!”


Johan Cruyff Institute Amsterdam uses a rich learning environment that fosters educational tools based on a student interaction model. We aim for a mix of students from sports and business sectors, which also enables students to share their unique experiences and learn from each other. Through ‘Cruyffian’ teaching methods the students will engage actively in creative challenges that require effort, commitment and intuitive thinking. Visit the web pages to find out more about these programs, which we deliver in English:

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