Montverde Academy’s one-of-a-kind soccer facility is about to become reality.
The only Cruyff Court in the country will be dedicated at Montverde Academy at 9:30 a.m. Jan. 18, during the Montverde Academy Soccer Tournament.
Expected to be in attendance for the official dedication will be professional soccer greats Frank Rijkaard, Salif Diao and Dewayne de Rosario. Rijkaard won a Champions League title in Spain as coach and two championships as a player, while Diao was the captain of Senegal’s 2002 World Cup team, and De Rosario is the all-time leading scorer for the Canadian national team and a member of Toronto FC in Major League Soccer.
Montverde Academy’s Cruyff Court will be one of only 180 such facilities in the world, but it is the only one of its kind in the United States, according to the Johan Cruyff Foundation (JCF). The court is, essentially, a miniature soccer field designed to help children learn the game and improve their physical fitness.
While it is expected to function predominantly as a soccer facility at Montverde Academy, Cruyff Courts have also been used as facilities to help disadvantaged youth and youths with disabilities by providing an area for other sports, such as wheelchair hockey.
Montverde Academy headmaster, Dr. Kasey Kesselring, said in June that he was looking forward to hosting the first Cruyff Court in the country.
“This concept fits our core values as an institution at the academy, and I look forward to working with the Johan Cruyff Foundation to provide opportunities for all children,” Kesselring said.
The JCF was started in 1997 by Cruyff, a European soccer legend and standout in the 1970s and 1980s in the now-defunct North American Soccer League. The JCF has enabled Cruyff to realize his dream of giving more children the opportunity to play together through sport while making a contribution to healthy living, quality of life and values.
The idea for the JCF, Cruyf f said, began when he was playing in the NASL. A neighbor had a child with Downs syndrome who, Cruyff said, “was always alone, watching other kids playing and having fun.”
Over time, Cruyff said he befriended the boy and taught him basic soccer skills to get him to become more active.
“As time passed,” Cruyff said, “he began playing soccer with the rest of the kids in the neighborhood.”
Kesselring and Montverde Academy Athletic Director and boys soccer coach Mike Potempa traveled to Amsterdam nearly a year ago before learning that the school had been selected.
Montverde Academy’s Cruyff Court is made of an artificial surface, according to Ken Poole, a certified playground installer and certified playground safety inspector. Poole and Eric Medley were charged with overseeing construction of the facility. It includes the court’s fence, which was recently shipped from Holland.
Poole said the synthetic turf uses “crumb rubber,” which is made of recycled truck tires, as infill for the turf.
“During initial applications, the crumb rubber appears as a fine, dark soil,” Poole said. “After several sprayings, the recycled truck tire rubber will eventually seep into the green turf to create optimum support. Rain and maintenance will eventually allow the crumb rubber to bond with the turf.”
According to figures provided by the JCF, more than 50,000 children with disabilities play sports on a weekly basis through projects supported by the JCF. The Netherlands, where Cruyff was born, is home to 152 Cruyff Courts. An average of 616 activities involving more than 15,500 children take place each week on the courts.
The dedication ceremony will coincide with the MAST, which begins Thursday as an eight-team tournament featuring four games each day. The tournament title will be decided at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 18. Play begins at 2 p.m. on Thursday and Friday and at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Montverde Academy will defend its 2012 tournament.
Daily admission is $10 for adults and $7 for students. Concession stands will be operating and selli ng standard stadium fare.