Feyenoord also left a more permanent footprint on the Caribbean island: the club donated a specially designed street football court by Pole Soccer that the Cuban Football Association will use year round to promote football around the country. The visit was topped off with a two day masterclass in Havana for talented youth players.
The Feyenoord delegation spent a couple of days in Santa Clara, where they worked with local youth coaches and youth players. ‘Villa Clara province really is the hotbed of football in Cuba and it was easy to tell that there is a hunger there for football and tactical know how’, says Melvin Boel, international development coach at Feyenoord and the Feyenoord Academy. ‘In Santa Clara we had some very intense sessions in the classroom as well as on the pitch. We showed them that a lot of progress can be achieved through thinking differently. Both the coaches and the players were so eager to learn, it was a great pleasure working with them!’
After spending three days in Villa Clara the team then travelled to Havana where they were officially received by the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Mr Norbert Braakhuis who inaugurated the first Feyenoord Street Court Tournament in Cuba. ‘Thanks to a generous contribution of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nirint Shipping, Rotterdam Topsport and a group of Rotterdam based companies we were able to offer the Cuban Football Association this wonderful portable court plus a demountable sports floor’, says Gido Vader, manager of international relations at Feyenoord. ‘It is our hope that the court shall be used all over Cuba to further promote football and the participation of children in sport. Having said that, it is obvious to us that football is on the rise. Wherever you go, you see people playing football and there is talent everywhere.’
In the final days of the visit, the Feyenoord coaches worked with talented boys from Havana. Vader: ‘Every time we are here we hope to be able to give football in Cuba a real impulse. We are very grateful to our project sponsors and to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who made it possible for us to provide the Cuban football federation with some much needed training materials and the children with a lasting memory. That is what Feyenoord is all about.’
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