Of all the footballing organisations in Europe, the KNVB in Holland is arguably the one that’s most steeped in history and heritage.
Founded in 1889, it continues to organise all aspects of football in the Netherlands, from youth structures and fifth-class amateur leagues to the top-flight Eredivisie and the famously orange-clad Dutch national side.
Despite this it operates a relatively lean team of 300 permanent staff, who organise around 30,000 official matches every weekend. It achieves this thanks to a lean and agile framework, which is currently driven by the grassroots ‘Kicks’ initiative.
What is Kicks?
Dutch football at all levels has always been associated with innovation, with the ‘total football’ concept offering a relevant case in point.
Synonymous with fluid 3-4-3 and 3-3-3-1 formations, this tactical system allows for the complete interchange of players in different positions, and was central to the success of the famous Ajax side during the 1970s.
This focus on innovation and new ideas also led the KNVB to develop the Kicks initiative, which has sought to revitalise and revolutionise grassroots football in the Netherlands.
More specifically, it’s focused on making grassroots football and opportunities more accessible, by reducing the commitment that individuals have to make when joining a local football club or youth side.
But how exactly does it work? In simple terms, it seeks to replicate the broad, on-demand approach that has revitalised other spaces, including entertainment (through Netflix) and music (Spotify).
The ‘football on-demand’ model that underpins Kicks essentially enables participants of all ages to book and pay for open training sessions online, on a one-off basis without any need for a long-term commitment.
Training then takes place within local teams and clubs, and all players need to do is turn up with their football gear and focus on playing and technical development.
Individual training sessions of all shapes and sizes are subsequently organised by a qualified Kicks’ coach, who helps to ensure a balanced side and shapes the experience according to the age and experience of the participants.
So, whether you require detailed technical or tactical drills to help improve young players or open sessions that prioritise fun on the pitch, you can realise your objectives and access tailored experiences through Kicks.
How This is Underpinned by the KNVB’s Infrastructure
Of course, this is underpinned by the KNVB’s vast and highly developed infrastructure, which provides access to a wealth of great and professional-grade pitches nationwide.
To this end, there’s usually a pitch less than 15 minutes from your home as a young player in Holland, with this envy of most grassroots systems in Europe.
What’s more, the federation also has access to high-quality balls, hear and changing facilities, while a staggering 3,000 grassroots KNVB clubs of various age ranges are accessible throughout Holland.
In Amsterdam, for example, there are six different clubs at which you can train and play, along with 11 open training sessions every week.
Make no mistake; this model and the Kicks initiative makes it easier than ever to encourage, identify and develop the best young talent, particularly when you also consider the wide range of talented coaches active in Holland.