A sunny Wednesday afternoon in L4 saw Everton manager and Johan Cruyff Foundation Ambassador Ronald Koeman officially open Cruyff Court Everton, a community facility operated by Everton in the Community to provide children in the local neighbourhood with a safe place to play sports.
Joining the Blues boss in looking around the impressive Cruyff Court Everton was Niels Meijer, Director of Cruyff Foundation, and Phil Duffy, Executive Director of Everton in the Community.
The Everton boss officially declared the Court open for the local community with the scoring of a penalty which was watched by a guard of honour of local school children and EitC participants.
The Dutchman had the opportunity to see Cruyff Court Everton being used for the first time when he oversaw a quick-paced game of football played by the Everton Amputee team. The Court was then split into four different activity stations and he spent time with participants from a variety of EitC programmes including the Premier League Girls, Premier League Primary Stars and Breathing Space as well as students from Everton Free School.
Cruyff Court Everton is funded by the Johan Cruyff Foundation, Everton Football Club, The People's Postcode Lottery, UEFA, Philips Lighting, David Thomas Legacy and Football Aid. The Cruyff Court can be found at The People’s Hub on Spellow Lane and is a modern interpretation of the traditional playing field – bringing back the opportunity of playing sport in the middle of your neighbourhood.
Speaking after the opening, Johan Cruyff Ambassador Koeman said: “This facility is great for people of all ages. The Johan Cruyff Foundation gives support to so many communities around the world and it is really fitting that Everton are involved in this project because I think we are number one when it comes to football clubs looking after their communities.
“It is a proud day for me because I was really close with Johan Cruyff and am really proud to be involved with this project and the Johan Cruyff Foundation. Johan would have enjoyed today, he knew what Everton are doing and how they are involved with all these projects.
“We spoke around a year ago - just before I signed for Everton - about what the Club were doing in the local community and the people in the area and that is what he liked. Football is an important sport in life but to help and support the people is still more important.
“It’s nice for everyone to have this football pitch. No matter who you are, what age you are or anything like that, you can still enjoy this.”
Meijer, Director of Cruyff Foundation, added: “After opening a first Cruyff Court in Liverpool and another two in London, we are delighted that we can offer the UK another Cruyff Court, this time in close partnership with Everton in the Community.
“The Cruyff Court offers the community of Everton a playfield that stimulates physical activity, but it is designed to be so much more than just a football pitch. It is a place where pupils learn about respect, responsibility and integration through sports. In the upcoming years we will work together with the People’s Postcode Lottery to get even more people active in the UK. We will do so by Cruyff Courts, Special Cruyff Courts for disabled children and so called Schoolyard14s.”
EitC Executive Director Phil Duffy said: “We have been working closely with the Johan Cruyff Foundation and are delighted to officially open Cruyff Court Everton at our People’s Hub. The Cruyff Court is a wonderful facility that will benefit so many members of our local community. This playfield will be used by many of our award-winning programmes as we continue to support and improve the lives of 20,000 people a year across Merseyside.
“Cruyff Court Everton plays a big part in our work to improve and regenerate the areas surrounding Goodison Park and it is important to us that we continue to build on the legacy work of Everton in the Community and remain embedded in our locality.”
The official charity of Everton Football Club, Everton in the Community, will use the Cruyff Court to deliver a wide range of programmes for the entire community including walking football for older participants, football coaching sessions for young children and disability sessions delivered by the charity’s coaching staff and volunteers.
The People’s Hub opened its doors in November 2016 and houses many Everton in the Community’s award-winning projects and offers members of the local L4 community a safe haven where they can socialise safely, access employment and training opportunities as well as receiving support around physical health and diet and specific community interventions.
The Johan Cruyff Foundations helps children to move up in life by being active so they can play together and grow in their development. Sport and play improves the fitness of children, teaches them to get along with others and helps them to develop. The Cruyff Foundation encourages children to get active through projects such as Cruyff Courts, Schoolyard14 and sports projects for children with a disability.