Van der Maarel: “I feel a strong need for personal development”

FC Utrecht icon Mark van der Maarel is studying the Master in Sport Management at the Johan Cruyff Institute and wrote this column for Telesport*

As a football nation, I have the feeling that we have been a little spoiled by the successes of the past. But they don’t offer any guarantees for the future. As a professional football player, I often see that opportunism reigns, which leads to wrong decisions from a professional point of view. Together with the emotions in the world of football, this is often labeled as a logical consequence. I think that there are number of factors that the leaders in this world should take into consideration in order to minimize this opportunism. Fortunately, I also see a trend in which gaining and implementing knowledge is playing an important role. Knowledge about this world in combination with knowledge about management and strategy is a requirement in my opinion.

I learned more about this during the Master in Sport Management at the Johan Cruyff Institute. I have gained much more insight into the sports world and I now also have a better understanding of the business side of things at FC Utrecht. This applies both within my team, in which I discover management structures and group processes, and within the organization of the club, in which I recognize structures of the policy makers.

The study is a welcome addition to my life and I think it’s a nice change. The combination of studying and playing football has brought balance into my life. This allows me to put the issues of football into perspective and put them to one side when necessary. In the past, I have had trouble with that, as a result of taking my problems back home. I have played my best season ever this year!

In addition, I also felt that I could get more out of my personal development and career. I have experienced that I haven’t given this a moment’s thought during my career often enough and now I have a strong need to develop myself as a person. Besides that, becoming older probably also plays a part in this, because now I occasionally ask myself: What am I going to do after my career? A football career is difficult to plan in advance, but I want to make choices that ultimately help me in my personal development so it will be easier for me to do something else after my playing career comes to an end.

* For information about the Telesport Scholarship Campaign, please click here

Header photo source: FC Utrecht


The 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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