2011 Trip to Holland

Recap of 2011 CBC DutchTouch Trip To Holland

Watch YouTube Video of the Trip to Holland 2011..........CLICK

The 2011 Spring trip to Holland was special because the weather was special - sunshine and mid 50's were standard weather conditions for the majority of the trip. Very unusual where cold, wind and rain are more the norm - obviously no one complained. Our group of 16 travellers enjoyed a wonderful balance of soccer and culture, gaining invaluable experience and memories that will last for many years to come. We were on the go from touch-down to take-off, with always some other place to go or something else to see or do - never a dull moment!

Our young players stayed the first 4 days with Dutch families, mostly those with Dutch players coming to St. Louis this summer or who had previously been to St. Louis in summers past. The remainder of the trip we all stayed together in the village of Groesbeek, in the western part of the Netherlands, within a stone's throw of Germany in a comfortable Dutch Hotel/Restaurant (de Oude Molen - the Old Mill).
From the soccer perspective, we visited 4 professional clubs - 3 in Holland (Ajax, NEC Nijmegen and Feyernoord of Rotterdam) and 1 in Germany (FC Schalke 04). At each site we managed to visit the stadium - took tours in 3 of the 4 - bought items from the Fan shop and watched training of either the First team or Youth teams, in some cases, both. We attended a Professional game in Nijmegen, NEC vs De Graafschap, a derby game of 2 mid-table teams, saw youth games of Ajax and NEC and talked with coaches when and where we could find them. Our group of players intermixed with the local players from the various local teams in the areas that we visited, and trained and played games with and against them. Another great experience! In the village of Groesbeek (population 18,000) they have 6 local youth clubs!!

What did we learn from the soccer experience? Great facilities - every place we went had facilities that we, in the US, would love to have, but we don't - not even close!! They put a very high value on good facilities, it leads to a good product. A meaningful, well-planned soccer education program - players learn and are trained in age-appropriate ways - winning is very secondary to proper development -- winning becomes more important around age 14, up to then it's all about learning the right way to play. Technique, speed of play, applying pressure, a good attitude focused on always being mentally in the moment, high intensity in training, always wanting to score goals, and most importantly - being able to think and play successfully UNDER PRESSURE!! We were very fortunate to have our players trained by some of the top Dutch coaches in the area, and they coached them in the Dutch way - quite different from our way - more demanding and always with attention to detail. The coaches on the trip were able to interact with the Dutch coaches and 'pick their soccer brains'.

We watched games from U 10 through the professionals and the best game we saw was the NEC U 10's -- we watched them train on Friday and play on Saturday and we were all impressed by the level of play and the maturity of their play - a direct reflection of their training and the coaching approach.

From the cultural perspective, there are many highlights. The amount of people that travel by bicycle is 'off the charts' - nothing deters them from getting to their destination by bike - not weather, nor time of day or night. All ages, men and women, working people and students, in heels and holding umbrellas - they can manage it all while they travel by bike.

We spent a half day in a Dutch bi-lingual school, where we observed a science and math class and participated in a language class and then played that class in a 5 a side game of soccer in the school gym. That was very special and the players enjoyed it immensely.

Our travels took us from Groesbeek/Nijmegen/Arnhem area to Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Ermelo, Lent, Kinderdijk in Holland and Gelsenkirchen in Germany. Kinderdijk was very different, a tiny quaint village in the old Dutch way with 19 windmills along a canal - very scenic, historic and unique. We spent 2 days in Amsterdam - one at the Ajax complex and the other in downtown Amsterdam where we took a very informative canal cruise and did some shopping, and a lot of people watching. You may never see more volume of people anywhere than you will in Downtown Amsterdam. It is mesmerizizng!

We found the Dutch people to be very accommodating, and they want to know about America. The Dutch way of living is different from living in America and our group began to appreciate that as time went on. Holland is a very densely populated country - 16 million people in an area about the size of the state of Missouri - with cities, villages and farmland, some even below sea level. The Dutch are a hardy and robust people, with a very active lifestyle and a real sense of reality. They speak their mind and they welcome your opinion.

Watch YouTube Video of the Trip to Holland 2011..........CLICK

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