The family Sweers moved from Dubai to the Netherlands last summer. For Vera, it’s the first time that she has lived here. "It’s a whole new experience. I lived in Dubai for seven years because of my father’s job. He works for an international company and had to make a transfer." Vera was excited to move to the Netherlands. "I was happy when I heard we would move, especially looking at football. There are more chances to develop myself here. Besides that, it’s nice to be closer to family."
It says a lot that Vera immediately links her new home to football. The talented midfielder has been obsessed with the game since a young age and could often be found on the pitch in Spain and the United Arab Emirates. "It was nice to play in Dubai, but it’s different than in the Netherlands. There are a lot of associations there with international expats who want to play football."
Ajax started the Ajax Academy Dubai in collaboration with partner Only4Stars with one purpose: educating youth via the Ajax philosophy. This sounded like music to Vera’s ears, and her parents decided to sign her up. She was part of the first class of a successful football school. "As a Dutch person, you know the name 'Ajax' very well. It’s amazing to say you play for the Ajax Academy. The training sessions were very technical and closely followed the Ajax philosophy. Getting to know that was fun, and I developed myself a lot, partially due to the individual training sessions."
Due to the move to the Netherlands, Vera had to drop out of Ajax Academy Dubai. However, another incredible adventure appeared. Ronald de Boer (former coach of Ajax Academy Dubai and namesake of the former Ajax player) and George Kazianis (Co-founder and CEO of Only4Stars) saw Vera’s potential and got into contact with Ajax, where Vera was offered an internship at the Talent team U16. "When I arrived in the Netherlands, I trained with them a few times, and based on my performance, they decided I could stay."
Vera was allowed to stay at Ajax after her internship, a massive milestone for Ajax Academy Dubai. Never before had a player from the Emirates made it to a professional football organisation through a football school. "It was fantastic to hear that I could stay. I’m doing well, but there is still much to learn."
Vera has big dreams for the future. "First of all, it’s a dream of mine to make it to the first team via the Talent Team and to make minutes there. Eventually, I want to make it to the Dutch national team. I will need to do much to reach that, but it is my dream. It’s already incredible that I can play for the Talent team U16. I owe much of it to the good training sessions and the trust the Ajax Academy Dubai gave me."
To Vera, the Ajax Academy Dubai played a big part in her path to success. The collaboration in the Gulf region is fruitful, and there will hopefully be many more talented footballers to walk the same path.