Amsterdam, April 2 – Guus Hiddink might be coaching the men in orange, but Holland have two new managers! No one less than freestyle football legend Soufiane Touzani and former professional player René van Rijswijk manage the Dutch street soccer teams during the Homeless World cup in Amsterdam.
Two teams of eight players will be representing the Netherlands during the Homeless World Cup, which will take place from 12-19 September at Museumplein in Amsterdam. Men and women’s teams from over forty countries will take part in the international tournament. The Dutch players will be selected from hundreds of participants in the Dutch Street Cup, the national street soccer tournament.
The manager from Holland and other countries don’t just pick their players for sporting talent. They also take into account the social development of players. The Homeless World Cup is life changing event, which offers people who have experienced homelessness and marginalisation a chance to turn their lives around.
Football wizard Touzani (28) will be looking after the Dutch men’s team. A pioneer of modern freestyle football, he made name for himself intenationally. Ten years ago he posted his first video on YouTube, which received millions of views. He thinks his experience as a street soccer player will aid him as a coach. “It was a massive honour to be asked. My link with the target group and street soccer makes it a good match, I think.”
Rotterdam native Touzani thinks that his fame in street soccer circles will help him in his job. “I hope they will take things I say more seriously than when it was just any person telling them. I think I can inspire players as well as the other way around. Working hard is the most important, and developing confidence. More confidence means you will get more opportunities in all areas of your life.”
Former player of Dutch pro club Cambuur René van Rijswijk has been named as national manager of the Dutch ladies team during this year’s Homeless World Cup. In the past years he gained experience as coach of the team from Leeuwarden city. He looks forward to using his experiences in Amsterdam. “As a football trainer I can help them see how best to play a tactical game and show them what techniques and skills they can develop. On a personal level I hope that at the end of the process they will have gained more insights in their own qualities, so that they can be more self-assured and build their future with confidence.”
The scouting rounds of players will take place in the coming months. Van Rijswijk says that simply by taking part in the regional tournaments, all players have already taken the most important step. “Joining in requires courage and determination. I have never met a street soccer player without those qualities.”
Van Rijswijk also has a message for his ‘colleague’ manager of the ‘other’ Dutch team: “Should Hiddink think that he might have something to learn from me, he now knows where to find me. It would be great if he would come and visit us some time; we could learn a lot of things from him too; that’s for sure!”