By KATE OBODO
Lodewijk De Kruif , is Heartland Technical Adviser, Football Club of Owerri, who led the team to win the 2011 Federation Cup last year.
De Kruif, who hails from Holland, is a lover of good and quality clothes and one who spares nothing to look good. In this interview with Hi Groove, he talks about his life as a former Dutch ex-international and his coaching career . He also compares c coaching in Holland and Nigeria.
In the Beginning
I started playing football on the street with friends when I was five or six years old. Then it was not possible to connect with amateur clubs. In Holland, when you want to get involved with football you have to connect with amateur clubs. This happens when you are between the ages of 8 and 9 years old. I connected at 8 with a family amateur club a striker.
And a few years later, some professional clubs invited me for trials. I went for a few trials and when I was fifteen, I joined professional club side.
I also played in the Dutch Under 14- 15 teams. Well, let me say modestly that I was one of the biggest talents in my area then. I started my professional career and played for six years in Belgium. After Belgium, I went to play in Germany for four years and retired at 35.
After my retirement, I went to the University for my coaching career and became coach in Dutch premiership and capping it as an assistant Youth team coach.
Comparing Dutch and the Nigeria Premier League
Football is the same everywhere in the world but there is so much difference in what is obtained here when compared to Dutch football. In Holland you have to be a qualified coach with a good University degree to handle a team.
I spent three years in the University, to get all the diplomas that are necessary to begin a coaching career. I also did sports marketing and management in the University. This means, I can also go for the job of a General Manager of a club or technical director. In essence, I can do all sorts of things in sports or football company.
Compared to my country, players can’t get the best here because the pitches are bad. Since arriving the country, I have adapted to the system while giving the best I can give.
Truly, you can not compare what is obtained here to European standard, it is not possible. My job here is to be able to give my team a good tactical education.
I’m happy that I can do that here because the mentality of Nigerian players and their counterparts Dutch are the same.
The passion Nigerians have for football is the same way my people feel for the game too. And that’s why Dutch coaches can adapt well in the Nigeria system.
Life outside coaching
Life outside coaching, is boring. When I’m not in training, I stay in my hotel room, watch the television, go swimming or surf the internet. I also spend time chatting with friends. Basically, my job here is to train the players and prepare them for matches. After which I go back to my hotel because I don’t consider it safe to move around.
Sometimes I go to the supermarket with my driver and personal assistant. And as soon as we return, it back to my room.
I wear good and quality shoes and my preference depends on my mood. I buy shoes three or four times in a year. I also compliment my dressing with good wrist watches. I also love perfumes with good fragrance.
Mood and Dressing
Of course, my mood affects the way I dress. When I’m in a meeting or lounging within my hotel, I’m always on my trainer suits or Jeans with a good top or long sleeve shirt. But on special occasions, I dressed differently and try to bring out the best in me. And during matches I want to dress to represent the club. I like fitted suits because it brings out my shape.
Women and I
Well, I do know for a fact that I have some female admires especially being a white men. But I’m not occupied by that.
As a coach and a public figure you treat your male /female fans or admirers well, but you must learn to keep a distance. At home,(In Holland) I have a wife and three children. These are the most important people in my life.
Owerri People and I
The Owerri people are very polite and humble. They are also wonderful fans. I don’t have any problem with the people. And with a very good future thinking Governor in office, the people are beginning to witness the rebuilding and restructuring of their State.
Smoking and Drinking
I’m an occasional smoker. I smoke only on special occasions.
As for drinks, I take either Fanta, Coke of fruit juice. I drink wine only on special occasions and when I do, I do so with my wife. I also take beer occasionally too and a bit of Smirnoff Ice. I do them once or twice in two weeks.
Foods and Fruits
There is a typical Dutch food that I like but can’t explain how it is prepared. It’s nice and heavy. People who are close to me know that I like Italian pasta and fish. I like it very much. I got to know about it in school. I was told that pasta is a meal for sports men and I like it very much. I also like Chinese food.
On Nigerian food, I like the Chicken Stew and Chicken Pepper Soup. I have never swallow any food like Eba and Fufu but I know about them. I’ve never made any attempt on these foods. I like fruits and I take them every morning before I take my breakfast. I like mangoes, paw-paw and the water melon.
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