However that isn’t to say it has not been tailored, altered, fine-tuned through the years. That course of began in 2011, when Cruyff returned to a membership that — in van der Sar’s phrases — “didn’t really feel like Ajax anymore.” Cruyff and the cadre of former gamers he introduced with him needed not solely to revive the concentrate on youth improvement, to shed extremely paid, growing old gamers, however to alter the best way Ajax labored.
“We focus at all times on the person,” Ouaali mentioned. “We don’t take into consideration age teams, just like the Dutch federation or like different golf equipment. It may be arduous for coaches as a result of they need outcomes as properly — to achieve success, to be promoted to the subsequent step up — however we attempt to discover coaches who concentrate on the event of gamers, who study the person, not the workforce.”
The membership acknowledged, too, that it needed to work sooner than earlier than. Gamers had been not staying within the Eredivisie till they had been 23 or 24; they had been leaving at 20 or 21, if not earlier. “At 19, they wanted to be able to play within the first workforce,” ten Hag mentioned, “as a result of at 20, they’re gone.”
That meant extra bodily work at youthful ages, and an finish to gamers going to highschool outdoors Ajax. Now, they research at De Toekomst, to allow them to maximize the hours they spend within the classroom and on the coaching discipline.
Ajax borrowed strategies present in Montessori training to combine age teams, and its under-18 workforce was abolished to “improve strain on the expertise,” Ouaali mentioned.
The membership’s second workforce, Jong Ajax — which performs in Dutch soccer’s second tier — not could be full of senior gamers; now, most of its members are nonetheless of their teenage years. “We needed to velocity up the method,” ten Hag mentioned. “They needed to be good faster.”
All of it was a proper acknowledgment of Ajax’s place within the 21st century soccer firmament. It’s telling, for instance, that Ouaali sees his job, and that of De Toekomst, not as to provide gamers for the primary workforce, however to provide them for “Ajax, then the Dutch nationwide workforce, then the highest worldwide degree.”