Foundation of Dutch Soccer Legend Partners with Montverde Academy to Benefit Orlando Youth

Johan Cruyff Foundation chooses Montverde Academy for first ever Cruyff Court in the United States

It was a cold wintry day in London four months ago when the Headmaster of Montverde Academy, Dr. Kasey C. Kesselring, and Director of Athletics, Mike Potempa, boarded their flight en route to The Netherlands to discuss a unique opportunity that would have the potential to help children throughout the world and make history in the process. Through a connection made by Mr. Erwin Boonacker, CEO of StannoTeamwear USA, initial discussions of the concept began in December of 2012 and it would finally be time to see if a dream could be brought to reality. After an extended day of presentations and introductory meetings at the Olympic Stadium in Amsterdam, Kesselring and Potempa left with the news that Montverde Academy had just been selected by the Johan Cruyff Foundation as the home site location for the first ever “Cruyff Court” in the United States.

Started in 1997, the Johan Cruyff Foundation is based on Cruyff’s dream to give more children the opportunity to play together through sport while making a contribution to healthy living, quality of life, and values. This concept was created by the Dutch soccer legend himself, while playing professionally in the United States for the Los Angeles Aztecs and the Washington Diplomats of the North American Soccer League (NASL) in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Often referred to as one of the greatest players of all time, Johan Cruyff was named European Player of the Year on three different occasions throughout his playing career, and was voted European Player of the Century in 1999 by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics. Cruyff also had a successful managerial career as the Head Coach at Ajax F.C. and F.C. Barcelona, two of the biggest clubs in Europe, winning numerous domestic and international championship trophies. “If you have the opportunity to do something for someone else, you have to do this,” said Johan Cruyff in the initial stages and conceptual planning of the Foundation.

According to Cruyff, the idea of the Johan Cruyff Foundation began when he was living in the United States and playing professional soccer. He had a neighbor, a boy with Down Syndrome, who was always alone, watching the other kids playing and having fun. It would be one day shortly thereafter that Cruyff taught him some basic soccer skills to help keep the young boy active. As time passed, he soon found the boy playing soccer with the rest of the kids in the neighborhood. It was then that he realized that for this boy, who had been marginalized up until now, sport had changed his life completely. This story proves the power of sport and formed the basis of the Johan Cruyff Foundation, which he started years later.

It is through the construction of small-sided soccer fields known as “Cruyff Courts” where the mission of the Johan Cruyff Foundation has helped millions of children around the world by giving them their playgrounds back. From Brazil to South Africa, throughout Asia and Europe, these “Cruyff Courts” serve as locations for children to learn about respect, responsibility, and cooperation.

“As Headmaster, I am certainly excited that Montverde Academy has been uniquely selected by the Johan Cruyff Foundation as the first location in the United States to continue to promote their mission of wellness and respect in the community,” said Dr. Kasey C. Kesselring. “This concept fits our core values as an institution at the Academy and I look forward to working with the Johan Cruyff Foundation to provide opportunities for all children.”

Carole Thate, director of the Johan Cruyff Foundation, is very happy with the opportunity to create the first Cruyff Court in the United States. “We are proud that we are able to build the first Cruyff Court in the USA in cooperation with Montverde Academy. It’s a fantastic opportunity to create a stage on which, via the Montverde Academy community outreach program, the kids and young people from the greater Orlando area get a chance to become more active, play together, and use soccer as a means to help them in their personal development.”

With nearly 180 Cruyff Courts currently operating around the world to help promote living well, fighting obesity, and providing sporting opportunities for those with special needs, The Cruyff Court Montverde Academy will be the first of its kind on US soil. “As an enthusiast of sport, I can’t explain how excited we are to have reached a partnership agreement with the Johan Cruyff Foundation,” said Director of Athletics Mike Potempa. “It is a tremendous honor and opportunity to bring the community together for the benefit of children using sport as a vehicle to teach the value of teamwork, respect, and responsibility in an effort to fight obesity and get children exercising again.”

The Cruyff Court Montverde Academy is expected to officially open later this year, and construction is already underway. “We have selected a location on campus and have cleared the land to continue moving forward with the project,” said Dr. Kesselring. “We intend to complete the Cruyff Court Montverde Academy at some point in the near future so that we can begin our community outreach efforts with the Johan Cruyff Foundation this fall.”

A well respected international private boarding school located in Montverde, Florida near Orlando, Montverde Academy is well known throughout the country for its challenging academic curriculum and outstanding athletic achievement. As 2012 marked its Centennial year celebration, the Montverde Academy Boys Varsity Basketball and Soccer Programs won national championships in the same season for the first time in school history. “Montverde Academy is truly a unique place where academic excellence is equally matched with athletic opportunity,” said Dr. Kesselring. “Our partnership with the Johan Cruyff Foundation will certainly allow us to have a more powerful impact on the lives of youngsters in the Lake Country and Central Florida area, and it’s my hope that we can work together for the greater good not just in Florida, but preach the mission of the Johan Cruyff Foundation nationwide.”

About Montverde Academy

Montverde Academy is an international, coeducational, independent college preparatory school for grades PK3-12, with a boarding program serving grades 7-12, and post-graduate studies. Its mission is to inspire students to become knowledgeable leaders with global vision that instils a passion for learning and nurtures character development in a disciplined and diverse community. Five generations of Montverde Academy graduates have been guided by three fundamental principles of Knowledge, Character and Community with its international character adding an exciting dimension to the community and the overall educational experience.

http://www.montverde.org

For further information about Montverde Academy, please contact Mr. Mike Potempa, at mike.potempa@montverde.org.

About the Johan Cruyff Foundation

The Johan Cruyff Foundation was established in 1997 as a result of Johan Cruyff's aspiration to get children moving. Since its launch in 1997, the Johan Cruyff Foundation has been growing into an organization that keeps youth in motion every day. The Foundation realizes this by building Cruyff Courts (public playgrounds that give children back their play area), creating Schoolyard14’s (upgraded challenging schoolyards that invite children to become more active), by supporting sport projects for children with disabilities and by organizing unique sport events for youth.

http://www.cruyff-foundation.org

For further information on this particular Cruyff Court, please contact Mr. Ilja van Holsteijn at +31 20 305 77 66 or via e-mail at info@cruyff-foundation.org.