Dutch King visits jubilee and award-winning PSV Foundation project

29 October 2021

Dutch King visits jubilee and award-winning PSV Foundation project

King Willem-Alexander paid a visit to PSV United on Thursday morning. The PSV Foundation programme exists exactly ten years this month and uses football to work on personal development and to increase the social cohesion of boys and girls aged 10 to 14. Project manager Bart Heerkens and trainer Stanley Verbeek received the king on behalf of PSV and they look back on these special years in which a lot has happened. ‘I find it wonderful to see that participants grow through development’.

Heerkens looks out of the window. “What have been the highlights in recent years?”, he repeats the question. “That’s a difficult one. We’ve had a lot of highlights and this is another one. King Willem-Alexander visited one of Bennekel United’s training sessions in 2015 as well, to name one more.” As he did then, he joined Eindhoven alderman Yasin Torunoglu in talks with (former) participants on Thursday about how the programme has contributed to their personal development. “In addition, winning the ‘More than Football Awards 2014’ was very special. We were just three years into the project at the time and it was nice to see that the project was already recognised in that environment,” Heerkens said. The award is presented by the jury to clubs with the most inspiring projects in the field of society and football. The KNVB describes the project as follows: “Thanks to PSV United, the social safety in the neighbourhoods has increased. The children find it wonderful to play football for PSV and to learn from the club.”

©PSV Foundation: Bram Saeys; Werkbezoek Koning Willem-Alexander aan de Bennekel

Heerkens is proud of what PSV United has achieved in recent years. “The programme is fun, educational and made to measure. We look at each neighbourhood to see what the needs are. We want to keep young people off the streets and tackle criminal behaviour. PSV Foundation does this in cooperation with various social parties in the Eindhoven districts: Mensfort, Bennekel, Tongelre, Woensel-West and Braakhuizen in Geldrop. Stanley Verbeek, among others, gives this training. He explains that during the training sessions and matches they also discuss difficult situations that participants may experience in everyday life. “For example, children learn to deal with setbacks, but also to dare to stand in front of a group.”

‘Referee is always right’
So too during the training in Bennekel on 5 October. A group of six young people play football against each other in teams of three. A referee keeps a close eye on the game. At one point, the ball rolls behind the line. The players cannot decide who can take the ball. They call in the referee. After the verdict, Verbeek calls everyone to him. “The referee has decided which team gets the ball, but I see that some people do not agree with the decision. What is the best thing to do in that case?” The group consults with each other and Stanley confirms the correct answer. “The referee is always right. You may not agree, but you can’t get angry because he decides.” The children nod and are allowed to continue playing. Moments later, a boy shoots the ball towards goal, but the referee disallows the shot. The player wants to protest but his teammate speaks to him. “Don’t, the referee is always right.”

‘Most beautiful reward’
“The most beautiful moment is when participants achieve their goals,” Heerkens said. Mohammed (13) was one of these participants. He followed the programme for two years. “I really enjoyed it,” he says. “I already loved football. I wanted to watch all the matches.” Mohammed says that the participants learned a lot during the training sessions. “In addition to just playing football, we cover topics such as having respect towards each other. If we got angry because we scored a goal against, we learned that we were not allowed to take it out on others. If we did, we would get a punishment like extra runs. He looks back on it positively. “What I really liked was that PSV sometimes gave us a surprise. I got tickets for a match, for example.”

Heerkens wants to work even more with partners from the neighbourhoods to increase the connection and thus expand the project. “We are in discussion with several municipalities to see if we can land the programme there as well. Hopefully, we can roll out PSV United in the entire Brainport region to help as many children as possible develop their talents. He also thinks it is extremely valuable to investigate expanding the programme with an older target group so that the target group we are now reaching will also remain in the picture after the programme and we can continue to support them in their developments.”


PSV United

PSV United is a motivating football based educational programme that is aimed to develop the different talents of ...