Former Ajax coach looks for local talent

  • Bob de Klerk is coming to Bermuda at the end of the month to coach 200 talented young footballers

Bob de Klerk, a coach with Uefa Pro-Licence who worked for ten years at the Ajax youth academy, will be coming to Bermuda at the end of the month to search new talent at the first talent Identification Showcase put on by Bermuda Sports Management Group and Bermuda’s Brazilian football School.

A maximum 200 young players will participate in the five-day camp from April 26 to May 1 with local clubs invited to register their best four players in the under-9 to under-17 divisions.

De Klerk, who joined Toronto FC in January 2011 as first assistant coach/technical director, worked with Bermuda captain Reggie Lambe when Lambe was at the Major League Soccer side. Other players he has worked with include Christian Eriksen, of Tottenham Hotspur, Torsten Frings, the former Bayern Munich and Germany midfielder, Doneil Henry, a Canada defender, Daley Blind, of Manchester United, and another Netherlands international, Joël Veltman, of Ajax.

In addition to his work at Ajax, de Klerk spent time at Ajax Cape Town in South Africa. While at Toronto he worked alongside Ajax colleague Aron Winter who went on to become the head coach/technical director. De Klerk won the Canadian Cup in 2011 and 2012. He spends his time now between North America and Europe.

“He’s one of the big-name coaches coming here,’ said Cal Blankendal, of BBFS. “It’s unusual to get pro-licence coaches to come here and not just give a lecture but to actually be on the field.

“To have a pro-licence coach, who has done it at the highest level in Europe and the MLS, actually work with grass roots players for a week is unique as most times they only work with elite players.”

So far close to 100 youngsters have been registered by their clubs and Blankendal is urging clubs and parents of the children selected to complete the forms as soon as possible. “Registrations are coming in daily and we’re hoping we can conclude the registrations by April 20 at the latest,” Blankendal said.

“We want the clubs to have the first submission as they would know the quality of their players. We’ll leave the identification of talent to the professionals.”

De Klerk played as a professional footballer in Europe with the likes of Frank Rijkaard, Gerald Vanenburg, Wim Kieft and Ruud Gullit. As a youth player he was scouted by Ajax and spent his youth development at the Ajax youth academy.

As a young professional he played in Belgium in the highest division at Zulte Waregem and De Graafschap in the Dutch Eredivise.

The coaches for the Talent Identification Showcase will be coming from the Netherlands, Canada, United States, Portugal, England and Scotland.

The student-athletes will be assigned to two groups, advanced or intermediate, and the best of the talent will be offered opportunities overseas for further training, trials and academic scholarships.

The camp will focus on talent identification, player development, academics, life skills and international opportunities. The camp will be managed by Bermuda Sports Management Group and facilitated by Bermuda’s Brazilian Football School.

“The coaches are connected with academies and institutions all around the world and some have, in the past, worked with the U-19 team at Ajax.”