Ajax, in cooperation with DC United, organized a clinic on Friday for children from the neighbourhoods surrounding RFK Stadium in Washington DC. This was a good occasion for AEGON USA, together with the Dutch ambassador, to do something positive for the community. World Cup finalists MaartenStekelenburg, Gregory van der Wiel and the other Ajax players also were favourites in the U.S.
“Is everybody excited today?!” is heard as all of the kids at Dc United’s training facility await the start of the special clinic. An enthusiastic ‘yes!’ rings out, the fitting answer from the young Americans. After all, it isn’t every day that the Dutch national champions come to show them a thing or two. In addition to Stekelenburg and Van der Wiel, Demy de Zeeuw, Daley Blind and Dario Cvitanich are also fully engaged, in the presence of the NOS and American station ABC.
Local heroes are also in attendance. DC United also has five players participating in the clinic. Captain Dax McCarthy, top scorer Charlie Davies (six goals in the last ten MLS games), keeper Bill Hamid, Chris Pontius and the Uruguayan Rodrigo Brasesco form five pairs with their Ajax counterparts. Other prominent guests include the American former Ajax player John O’Brien, and the Dutch ambassador. Madam Renée Jones – Bos watches the clinic with pleasure. “It’s great that Ajax is in Washington. Especially so soon after winning the championship. We couldn’t have hoped for a better moment.”
The ambassador continues: “In this city, just like in many others, there is a large contrast between rich and poor. The DC United stadium is located in one of the poorer areas of Washington. We do many after school activities for young people. A clinic like this gives them a great opportunity to learn. It’s important that kids stay active, as obesity is a big problem. That’s why it’s critical that young people play more sports.”
In addition to basketball and baseball, football is gaining ground in the U.S., notices the ambassador. “Football may not be the most popular sport in the U.S., but it’s on the rise, especially since the World Cup. The great thing today is that we have the Dutch champion, and two World Cup finalists.”
The fact that the American kids stay well informed is apparent, as Stekelenburg is reminded of the dented championship trophy. “Maarten, why did you drop the trophy?”, asks one curious participant. Ajax’s keeper can laugh about it, and can also speak his own language with some of the local kids. 8 year old Cas is the son of Dutch expats, and thus one of the lucky ones to get football lessons from the Ajax players. “This is fantastic. I’ve gathered all of the autographs this afternoon. Stekelenburg has also taught me a few tricks. I’m looking forward to Sunday. For the first time ever, I’ll watch a match with Ajax as the opposing team.”
Follow Ajax in the U.S. via Ajax.nl, Ajax TV and Twitter@Official_Ajax.