Published on 30 September 2021

What is happening in the UK? Yesterday we hosted such an amazing event with the opening of Special Cruyff Court Jackie Groenen at Cumberland School and today.. Virgil van Dijk, player of Liverpool FC, captain of the Dutch National team and Cruyff Foundation ambassador, opened his own Special Cruyff Court at Pontville School in Ormskirk, Lancashire.

Virgil van Dijk, the captain of Dutch football and Cruyff Foundation ambassador played on a Cruyff Court himself when he was a child. Commenting on the opening Virgil said to the children: ‘This Cruyff Court will help you in multiple ways; As a football player and especially as a human being. You’ll have to deal with teamwork, losing, defending, winning. You’ll benefit and enjoy it!”

Virgil was a perfect match with this project at Pontville School, near Liverpool, as he feels a strong drive to help all children to participate in sport. Pontville School is a co- educational, independent specialist residential and day school for children with special educational needs in Lancashire.

The Cruyff Foundation opened the first Cruyff Court in the United Kingdom, Cruyff Court Dennis Bergkamp, in London back in 2008. Johan Cruyff was present that day. Since Johan's passing in 2016 his legacy remains our inspiration every single day. At the end of this year there will be over 20 (Special) Cruyff Courts in the UK. Special Cruyff Courts are adapted to the needs for children with disabilities. A Special Cruyff Court has adaptations include surfaces, special facilities and adapted sports equipment to make it accessible for everyone.

‘Niels Meijer, director of the Cruyff Foundation commented: “With this Special Cruyff Court, space is created for the children of this school. Space to sport and play. Space to grow. Space to make friends. Space to be active and improve physical and mental health. Nowadays this is more important than ever. We want to thank players of People’s Postcode Lottery who support courts like this’.

Phil Jones, CEO of Witherslack Group, a leading provider of specialist education of which Pontville School is part of, said: ‘We have immense pride in working in partnership with the Cruyff Foundation to create amazing spaces for our young people. This Cruyff Court at our Pontville School is simply a world class facility and has made such a positive impact for both pupils and staff. The difference they have made was particularly illustrated throughout the early stages of the pandemic. When our schools were asked to stay open the courts played a huge part in both ensuring the wellbeing of our school community, as well as offering much needed fun and enjoyment. Our ambition is to continue our work with the Cruyff Foundation to create even more amazing courts, with developments in the North East, North Yorkshire, Cumbria and the South East already well advanced.

The Cruyff Foundation has focus on creating spaces in the United Kingdom and will keep on developing great projects like this in the near future.

This project is realized thanks to support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery.