Over the past week, the Sharjah FC delegation cast an exclusive glance into the Amsterdam kitchen and saw how things are going internally at Ajax. A number of youth training sessions were visited at de Toekomst and the guests attended the UEFA Youth League encounter between Ajax and Napoli. Coach Frank Peereboom's talents, who played with ten men for a long time, impressed with a 5-1 victory.
Ajax has been working with Sharjah FC since 2020. Four experienced Ajax coaches (Misha Salden, Karim Bridji, Marco van Galen en Mark van der Slot) help improve local youth training in the United Arab Emirates. Training youth trainers, coaches and staff members is an important part of this. This is done through a special Ajax training programme, for which Ajax experts are also flown in or available digitally. All with the aim of becoming the best youth academy in the UAE.
Training and improvement are naturally done according to the Ajax philosophy. From the Amsterdam club, this of course takes into account the local situation, customs and habits. ''Change takes time,'' explains Misha Salden. He is head of youth training for Ajax at Sharjah FC and one of four Ajax staff at the club. Salden was one of the coaching staff last week in Amsterdam in addition to being a questioner.
''We naturally always take into account cultural differences and the wishes at the club when implementing our Ajax philosophy. At de Toekomst and in the ArenA, visitors from all Ajax divisions will get something. It is also good that the delegation can better understand our culture. Trips to the Rijksmuseum, for example, are valuable parts of this.''
Training top talents yourself
As is traditionally the case with Ajax, Sharjah also trains top talents themselves. ''We follow the Ajax philosophy and see the development in our players. But we are also looking at the longer term,'' continued Hassan Al Hammadi, responsible for youth training as a board member of Sharjah FC. Initial results are pleasing. ''Many players from our youth academy are selected for national teams. This is a positive point. In the process, we get many applications from players who want to come and play football with us, especially because of the cooperation with Ajax. Soon, we will evaluate our cooperation.'' This week, Eisa Hilal Al-Haza (Sports Minister of Sharjah) was also present in Amsterdam. Among others, he met with board members Edwin van der Sar and Susan Lenderink.
Always wanting to be the best and always looking to improve; these are aspects that are inextricably linked to Ajax. And for more than two years now, therefore, apply to Sharjah FC as well. ''We are working on a good programme now, but the cooperation can always be closer and even better. You should always strive for that,'' Salden continued. ''We continue to look at training and training coaches, at the whole organisation. What does it take to get even better?''
Ajax general manager Van der Sar earlier visited Sharjah FC. ''We have had a good partnership with Sharjah FC in the UAE for several years now. I myself have visited there several times. So I could see for myself how they are working together there to train staff members and youth players for their first team, by implementing our philosophy at the club, but adapted to the local situation.''
''Every year, Sharjah FC, together with our colleagues on the ground, takes new steps in that regard. It is good that we have now had the chance to also give them insight here with us into what we all work towards every day in training top talents and the end result with Ajax 1; becoming champions and performing in Europe.''