Siem de Jong was chosen as the Eredivisie’s most socially conscious player of 2013. At the Football Gala on Monday, the Ajax player will receive a cheque worth €50.000 from his predecessor, Tim Gilissen. The entire value of the cheque will be spent on a social project of Siem de Jong’s choice, as well as the social projects of his club, Ajax.
The award is possible by VriendenLoterij, the Eredivisie’s social partner. The VriendenLoterij and Eredivisie want to underline the social importance of football with this prize. “It’s an honour to receive this prize”, said De Jong with pleasure after receiving the news that he had won the title. “At Ajax, we do a lot off the field. So it’s actually an award for the club, and especially the Ajax Foundation, but I’m proud to be able to receive this prize. I’ll make sure that the proceeds that are attached to his will be well spent.”
The jury gave the prize to De Jong thanks to the way he fulfills his duties as a role model for young people and his team mates. He’s consciously aware of his role as an role model and professional football player, both on and off the field. Siem is very actively and enthusiastically involved in several of Ajax’s social projects, such as Scoren voor Gezondheid (‘Scoring for Good Health’), Ajax Streetwise and VUmc Kinderstad (VUmc Hospital Children’s Centre).
These projects are organized from the Ajax Foundation, which was established in 2010 with the aim to give Ajax’s social involvement more structure. Partly through enthusiasm, involvement and awareness of his role as a role model, Siem de Jong was selected as the Eredivisie’s most Socially Conscious player of 2013.
‘Siem is involved with almost all of the Ajax Foundation projects, sponsor activities and supporter activities”, Simone Freling, on behalf of the Ajax Foundation, explained De Jong’s nomination previously. “He stands for certain values and shares his knowledge. Moreover, Siem is a role model and acts as a good example for others. Both kids and parents accept this from him. This can be clearly seen during visits to the VUmc Kinderstad, and when patients attend trainings at the invitation of the Ajax Foundation. He’s the captain and spokesperson for the team, but he’s also right in the middle of the community. Siem is the figurehead of the socially involved selection. In fact, the entire players’ group could have been nominated.”
The Eredivisie clubs are asked each year to choose a player who takes on social responsibility. Each club can nominate one player, and Ajax chose captain Siem de Jong. The Ajax player, together with Willem Janssen (last season FC Twente, now at FC Utrecht) and PEC Zwolle player Rochdi Achenteh formed the shortlist of all of the players, selected by Eredivisie clubs, who made unique contributions to make a difference for a better society. These top three were evaluated by a jury consisting of: Alex Tielbeke (Director Eredivisie Media & Marketing), Tim Gilissen (winner 2012), Giovanni van Bronckhorst (winner 2011), Jaap de Groot (Chief of sports De Telegraaf) en Imme Rog (Managing Director VriendenLoterij).
The social function of football is becoming greater and more important for clubs and sponsors alike. Imme Rog, Managing Director of VriendenLoterij: “As the Eredivisie’s social partner, we think that it’s important that football players contribute to a better society. A professional football player can be an example for others. We’ve seen that it really works when they put their personal experiences and fame to work to, for example, stimulate kids to live healthier lives or work harder to catch up if they’re behind in school. That’s why we support the Social Player of the year with a financial contribution, with the expectation that many more social initiatives will follow.”
Edu Jansing, as the director of the Meer dan Voetbal (‘More than Football’) foundation, is familiar with the increasing impact of professional clubs and players in society. “I know Siem de Jong as someone who thinks it’s perfectly normal for a professional player to take responsibility”, said Jansing of the winner. “Siem does that on the field as the captain, and off the field with many projects. Siem is an example for young players at Ajax and the Dutch national team, as well as for many young football fans.”