Johan Cruyff Institute Amsterdam: 14 years educating leaders in sport management

Johan Cruyff Institute Amsterdam celebrates 14 years of history faithful to its mission of educating leaders in sport management as part of the academic legacy of Johan Cruyff

In this academic year, Johan Cruyff Institute Amsterdam reaches its 14 years of history remaining faithful to the vision of its founder and with the determination to continue spreading excellence in sport management as part of the academic legacy of Johan Cruyff. The more than 700 students that have been trained in its classrooms throughout this time and the collaboration with leading entities in the sports industry that believe in the mission of professionalizing the sector are the best recognition and motivation to continue training the next generations of leaders in sport management.

“Over the years, we have created a unique position in the Dutch sport management education market, offering modern leadership development in sport and business. Whilst remaining faithful to our origins by taking personal care of each and every coach, manager, athlete, sports professional or business partner, we have always been driven by growth. This has resulted in us becoming a strategic key player in the Dutch sports industry and beyond,” remarks the general manager of Johan Cruyff Institute, Mariël Koerhuis.

Johan Wim

Johan Cruyff and Wim de Wit

Johan Cruyff said: “My vision on sport management is quite simple: I think that more people with a passion for sport should lead sports organizations.” It all started with that vision. Firstly, with the Johan Cruyff Academy in Amsterdam, which offers higher professional education especially designed for top athletes. Previously called the Johan Cruyff University, it was founded in 1999 under the leadership of Wim de Wit. Five years later, the secondary vocational education version was set up, the Johan Cruyff College, and a year later Johan Cruyff Institute was established to deliver the Master in Sport Management.

“For me, Johan Cruyff Institute and Johan’s ideas have laid a foundation that I still benefit from daily, consciously and unconsciously, in my career.” – Jordy Halapiry (group brand director, TBWA\NEBOKO – Master in Sport Management 2007-2008)

The very first edition of the Master in Sport Management kicked off in September 2007 in Amsterdam. Currently, the 14th edition of the program is running not only with elite athletes having found their way to Johan Cruyff Institute, but hundreds of business and sports professionals, graduates and international students have also taken their place in the classrooms. Well-known sport management alumni include Edwin van der Sar, Ernesto Hoost, Bibian Mentel, Edith Bosch and Esther Vergeer, to name just a few.

Johan Edwin

Johan Cruyff and Edwin van der Sar during his graduation ceremony

In 2009, the Master in Coaching started under the direction of handball head coach Henk Groener. A unique and innovative in-depth program in which coaches, managers, elite athletes, teachers, police officers, performance analysts and other executives go on a journey of discovery of themselves. A program where you first learn to coach yourself before you coach someone else. This master’s program has become so popular over the years that there are now three editions every year: two Dutch editions and an English version for international students. Well-known coaching alumni include Merijn Zeeman, Celine van Gerner, Laurens ten Dam, Femke Heemskerk and Leonne Stentler.

“Johan Cruyff Institute was a place where I could safely open my own closed doors. A place where I was allowed to develop myself under Johan’s watchful eye. I still carry my notebook with me most of the days, so I never forget what I learned. I’m forever grateful.” – Celine van Gerner (former Olympic gymnast – Master in Coaching 2018-2019)

They form part of a community of 733 master’s students who have graduated successfully from Johan Cruyff Institute Amsterdam and many of them occupy executive positions within sport, at entities such as Team Jumbo-Visma, AFC Ajax, the Royal Dutch Cycling Union, Manchester City, Nike, the Royal Dutch Speed Skate Federation, Olympic Center Papendal and the Royal Dutch Football Federation.

Johan graduation

Johan Cruyff with the students of the Master in Sport Management 2011-2012 at their graduation ceremony

In the past 14 years, Johan Cruyff Institute Amsterdam has undergone many developments. The institution moved to a new office on Laan der Hesperiden and the program portfolio was expanded. This includes special Master Modules, online programs and the In-House Master in Coaching for the coaches of Team Jumbo-Visma, Team Sunweb, AFC Ajax, NAC Breda and AZ Alkmaar.

“There is a life before your study at Johan Cruyff Institute and a different life after. Try to stand still for a moment and enjoy the time at the Institute together!” – Natascha van Grinsven-Admiraal (commercial director, Telstar 1963 N.V. – Master in Sport Management 2009-2010)

In addition, important partnerships have been signed with sports organizations and federations, on the basis of activations in the field of education and personal development, in order to professionalize the sports industry together. Sport entities such as the KNSB, VVV-Venlo, Le Champion, the KNZB, Johan Cruijff ArenA, Telesport and Almere City FC have become part of the partnership network and there is a collaboration with House of Sports, Red Bull, Team Jumbo-Visma, adidas, HEINEKEN, AZ Alkmaar and many other leading sports organizations in the Netherlands and abroad.

Also, many great events have taken place, such as the study trips to Barcelona, the alumni field trips to Borussia Dortmund and Feyenoord, among others, and the annual New Year’s reception.

“Johan Cruyff was masterful! Therefore it is a privilege to follow the Cruyffian education method, which gives me insight and support to guide players in making the right choices, both on and off the pitch.” – Denny Landzaat (former Dutch football international – Master in Coaching 2020-2021)

The Johan Cruyff Institute team works hard behind the scenes to continue to innovate, develop and continue Johan’s legacy. The goal is to remain a place where students have classes in a Cruyffian way and are taken out of their comfort zones within a safe environment. And, of course, to create memories and make friends for life in an increasingly professional sports industry.



The Master in Coaching in Amsterdam is developed for everybody who seeks self-knowledge and self-development with the aim to improve oneself as a (sport) coach and/or manager. This 10-month program is delivered in Dutch and based on the vision of Johan Cruyff in which sport coaching is more than using tactical and technical knowledge. It is about yourself, the players & staff, the team and the environment. We believe that you can only coach others if you know how to coach yourself.

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