It’s a wonderful tradition, which was given a new twist this year. On Trophy Night (formerly Pennant Night), the Ajax talents from the youth academy closed the football year in a festive fashion. The highlight last week was Damon Mirani winning the Talent of the Year award.
But there was much more to experience at the Toekomst Sports complex. Joop Leeuwendaal sang the club song, and, among others, Theo van Duivenbode (board of directors) and Wim Jonk (technical heart) addressed the youth players and their parents. Naturally, the youth coaches and other (team) leaders and staff members were also present. Pennant Night had always been held in the Toekomst’s cafeteria. This year, field 1 was the place where all of the Ajax players from the Toekomst gathered for Trophy Night.
“Our vision and mission is to be the best academy in the world”, said technical heart member Jonk. “The parents are an important part of that. Together, we want to make it a success. Hopefully, we can make it into decades of success. Our club deserves that.” While Jonk gestured towards the Amsterdam ArenA: “If every player can take steps in his development, then we will be able to present many players to the beautiful temple down the road.”
The F1 and B1 champions received a commemorative trophy on Tuesday. The captains of the other Ajax teams received commemorative pennants. Mirani received the Sjaak Swart Trophy for his selection as the Toekomst’s Talent of the Year. The 17 year old central defender from B1 was hailed as the greatest Ajax talent of the past season by Van Duivenbode and Jonk (and in a speech by all of the youth coaches). Remarkably, Mirani crowned his debut season in the academy with both the national title and the national cup.
During Trophy Night, a few youth players bade farewell to the club. The football players were thanked in the board room for their contributions in an Ajax jersey. The Ajax Academy Club – a club of (former) Ajax youth players – is ten members richer as of Tuesday. The newest members are: Nelinho Cleonise, Abdelmalek El Hasnaoui, Danzell Gravenberch, Bas Kuipers (all spent 11 years in the youth academy), Gavier Koningsbloem, Arnoud de Moor (both in the academy for 10 years), Boban Lazic, Peter Leeuwenburgh (9), Nick Lim (7) and Emran Barakzai (6).
The overwhelmingly festive program was closed with various football games for the Ajax talents. Leeuwendaal (who is also Ajax F1’s team manager) treated the crowd to a true Amsterdam medley. The parents and coaches enjoyed the Amsterdam tunes, the (barbecued) bites and drinks. The 2012-2013 season thus had a lively close; with an evening which emanated a warm club feeling.