The academic supervision is meant for the players between the ages of 11 and 20 and will include lifestyle advice on food, sleep and exercise. “So, about the physical basis,” says Stef Kremers, professor of Health Promotion. “If the basis is good, you will be better able to concentrate and in time achieve more on the pitch.”
Motor skills will also be dealt with. “Things like eye-foot coordination, or in general everything that the body has to do on the basis of signals from the brain. In the past, you used to train coordination when you played outside, climbing in trees. Now, with all those digital temptations, children know how to blindly find the keys on a keyboard, but doing a somersault or balancing on a plank appears to be a little more difficult. We also know this through research. So, I would say, let them complete an obstacle course, or get them to crawl, or play tig, which we used to do during gym class. Because of the lack of specialist teachers, these lessons have become rarer.”
This doesn’t mean that the youth teams will all be champions within no time at all. “Within five years, it will produce players who can last until the end of a game, those who can still do a sprint in the 80th minute, those who can keep their heads in the game more easily.”
After the summer, the would-be professional football players will start to keep a diary of the number of hours they sleep, exercise, and what they eat. “This is meant to make them more aware of their lifestyles. We won’t be checking everyone’s information, but from all those diaries together you of course get an image. And that is something we can talk about, together with the parents and youth trainers. If they can’t manage to live more healthily, they will receive tips and tricks.”
Everything depends on the attitude of the trainers and the parents, says Kremers. “Mam and dad ultimately determine what goes into the shopping trolley, how long they are allowed to sit at the computer.”
Reformation of the MVV youth is the work of Ron Elsen, who has occupied all positions at the club, including trainer of the first team. Elsen has asked Kremers to make a contribution to the advisory council, made up of former UM president (and former MVV chairman) Karl Dittrich and Bert van Marwijk, national coach for the United Arab Emirates for the past six months.
Kremers – who grew up in Eindhoven – knows how important lifestyle is in sports. “I did athletics at a reasonably high level, as a teenager I was at the top of Zuid-Nederland, so then it is important that you look after yourself.
Football is his great love. He has a soft spot for MVV, the club of the city where he works, but his heart beats for PSV. “I have had a season ticket for the past thirty years and I rarely missed a home game.”