“It’s nice to sign a contract that is not worth a fortune for a change.” Despite the fact that he hasn’t been at Feyenoord long, general manager (and EUR alumnus) Jan de Jong has already signed contracts that involved far greater amounts of money. However, that does not mean he is not happy with the pieces of paper that are currently awaiting his signature. “This is a major acquisition,” he says jokingly while shaking the hands of ESSB Dean Victor Bekkers and assistant professor Brian Godor. While posing for a photo with the first crop of students to join his club, he adds: “Even in these early stages, this is a better team than the one we’ve got.”

Huge fan

EUR and Feyenoord committed to a four-year partnership last Wednesday. Under the partnership, ESSB and ESHCC students will research Feyenoord’s impact on society. During each academic year, five students will do research work placements at Feyenoord, which will also involve the writing of a master thesis. “The club does quite a bit for society,” says Godor, who supervises the programme from EUR. “But it’s not always clear what impact these community projects have. The first students to embark on the programme will draw up a quick overview. In the long term, I hope Feyenoord will not come and see us after the fact, but talk to us beforehand, to determine what kind of impact their projects are designed to have.”

The first crop of students embarked on their graduation assignments at the famous club a few weeks ago. They all seem very keen on the assignment, although they all had different reasons for signing up for it. “When I saw the name ‘Feyenoord’, I didn’t even bother to read what the assignment was about,” says Ammar el Zarow, 25, a Positive Organisational Psychology student, with a grin. “I lived in Zuid for a long time, and being a huge fan, I was immediately sold on the programme. Sports, psychology and Feyenoord – the perfect combination.”

Impact on the city


Luckily for El Zarow, the assignment did turn out to be up his alley. “My thesis is about the Matchplay project, in which unemployed youths and employers meet each other while playing sports. I’m going to look into the question as to whether sports and the Feyenoord brand have any impact on the number of youths who find a job during the course of the project.”

His fellow student Anouk Cox, 22, confesses that the fact that the work placement involves football was not why she signed up for it. “I mainly found the assignment they offered extremely interesting. My research will focus on the question as to how Feyenoord will be best able to help adolescents living in Rotterdam-Zuid obtain basic qualifications that will help them find a job.” Having only recently moved to Rotterdam, Anouk never used to be much of a Feyenoord fan, but she is on her way to becoming one. “As a student living in Maastricht, you don’t get to see much of MVV [Maastricht’s professional football club – ed.], but Feyenoord is highly visible here. I was completely unaware of the club’s impact on the city. The club has already given me tickets to several matches, so I’ll be a fan soon enough.”