Thursday, May 26, 2011

Go ahead... tell me who's the coolest?

Another of the great things about Ajax is the way the club and the team cycle everything back through the kids of Amsterdam - the enthusiasm, the instruction, the style. It's much of how the city keeps producing players like Sjaak Swart, Dennis Bergkamp, Patrick Kluivert, Urby Emanuelson and Gregory van der Wiel.

It seems almost to go without saying, but Ajax never forgets the youth. It's Open Day (an interaction-fest top open preseason camp), it's Talent Day (which gives kids of all ages a chance to enter the academy), it's the ubiquitous "soccer courts" spread about the city (several of which were built by or named after Ajax stars). Go find any of these small city playing areas after school and on the weekend; you will find Amsterdam kids in Ajax gear playing creatively.

This week, kids in D.C. and Portland got to experience a little bit of this inspiration and guidance. When you see how Lorenzo Ebicilio - just 19 himself - speaks with the upset child or how Jeroen "Pizza" Verhoeven offers the perfect solution to the kid with the wandering right shoe, you start to understand how Amsterdam nurtures the next generation of local players.

Let it be stated that I give MLS high props on these measures as well. For now, though, let's go to the Dutch masters.

- Greg Seltzer

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