Ruud Gullit, Dutch soccer manager and former professional player, visited the Western Academy of Beijing on June 10 to run soccer clinics with lucky WAB students and two local Chinese soccer schools. The former Dutch national team captain and ‘87 and ‘89 World Soccer Player of the Year star worked directly with the lucky young players, running drills to work on coordination and gameplay.
Having played multiple positions during his successful career, Gullit became famous around the world for his skills on the field, and instantly recognizable dreadlocks. Now with short hair, but an equally infectious smile, Gullit was in Beijing preparing for the friendly international match between the Dutch football team and the Chinese National team. Gullit also participated in several events leading up to the match, and was kind enough to come to WAB to make the morning clinic part of his itinerary.
“The Embassy is excited to have the Dutch national team visiting China,” said Reinier Koppelaar, Counsellor for Health, Welfare and Sports from the Netherlands Embassy in Beijing. “The players are extremely popular here, and their presence will boost attention for our country. Therefore we organized several events around the match, giving Chinese people the opportunity to learn more about The Netherlands. I am also delighted to see Chinese children play soccer together with Dutch as well as other international kids here at WAB this morning.”
Everybody on the field for the two hours of clinics was having fun, including the WAB coaches and teachers. High school teacher and soccer coach Mike Lakwijk, who worked with the Dutch Embassy to bring this event to WAB, was clearly included in that group, taking a moment to sign a ball for a student from one of the local schools. When asked about what he thought of the students and the experience on that beautiful Monday morning, Mr. Gullit said he was happy to see the kids out on the pitch, and that seeing them have fun was what it is all about.
Caleb Liu, WAB’s Assistant Athletics and Activities Director, who was on hand for the clinics, expressed his appreciation of having Mr. Gullit come to the school to work with WAB students. Liu noted the significance of having such a well-known star and great ambassador of the sport here at school working directly with students.
In Tuesday evening’s friendly match between the Dutch Orange Lions and the Chinese Red Dragons national teams, the FIFA world ranked number 9 Dutch team was victorious, defeating the host team 2-0 at Workers’ Stadium in Sanlitun.
This article was originally posted on the Western Academy of Beijing’s Lianxi website. It is reposted here with permission.
Photo courtesy of WAB