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The Dark Corners of Society

To set the scene for the following discussion on socio-cultural constraints, we start with Ruben Jongkind’s comments made during May 2016’s NextGen Talks. Ruben is the former Head of Talent Development at Ajax Amsterdam, and after working with Johan Cruyff on ‘Plan Cruyff’ he is regarded as a leading authority on Johan’s philosophy.


Ruben Jongkind’s comments give a clear example of how socio-cultural (macro) factors influence player development within academies. While most of us are well aware of the problems with a ‘win-at-all-costs’ mentality, Ruben’s comments provide a deeper insight, highlighting why the need to win is still impacting player development in some academies. He points out that the problem starts when the focus is placed on the team and not balanced with the needs of the individual.

“When the team is the focus within the academy you start to run into problems: The first is the economic incentive within clubs. For example, the salary differences between youth coaches working in academies and coaches working with the first team are huge. The difference is maybe 10 or 15 times...

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